Bikes for the World

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Honoring the Life and Love of James McMullen

The Regional Lead School for the Arts (RLSAA) is living up to its name in the Philippines. This is one of the first high schools introduced into the education system in the Philippines. Previously, schools only went to grade 10 with students graduating at age 15 or 16. As expanded high schools are introduced, students now have the opportunity to complete two more years of high school and graduate at age 18.

Second group of bike beneficiaries at RSLAA
Bikes for the Philippines began a pilot project at RLSAA last year. They approached half a dozen "Out of School Youth" who had originally graduated from the old school system. In an effort to bring them back to school to finish those added two years of high school, they offered them a bicycle to use to commute to class.

With the container Bikes for the World shipped last year, BfP was able to expand the number of beneficiaries at RLSAA.

Bike beneficiaries use bikes to complete art assignments
The addition of RLSAA to the Bikes for the Education program has brought increased media attention to this effort to bring bikes to students and the importance of continued education throughout the country. Because Filipinos cannot legally work until they are 18, the added two years of high school keeps them engaged and invested in their education until they can begin careers after graduation.

This school's proximity to Manila has brought great media attention to this effort, generating excitement and enthusiasm in the program. Because this is an election year in the Philippines, this focus on education is coming at an important time.

Having beneficiaries close to the BfP warehouse also brings added, and much welcome, help to the process of bringing in donated bikes from the United States and getting them ready for use by students.

Diego is a bike beneficiary at RSLAA
Diego is a student at RLSAA and a bike beneficiary. He is 17 and on target to graduate in 2017. Diego knows the importance of a good education, both parents are college graduates.

 He is well rooted in the arts. His mother is a pre-school teacher and also teaches music. His dad is a puppeteer who makes his own puppets. Diego hopes to follow his parents' footsteps and his love of the arts by studying graphic arts in school. He hopes to open his own business after graduation.

Diego uses his bike to get to and from school and also to travel to an off site studio to continue his studies. He is also able to help look after his younger brother now that he can travel faster between assignments.

James McMullen served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines
Bikes for the World named the 2015 container donated to Bikes for the Philippines arriving in July in honor of the late James McMullen who passed away in May 2015. McMullen was an avid cyclist and popular teacher in DC. He also served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines in the 70s.

His widow Betty Scott chose Bikes for the World, specifically our education project in the Philippines, as the honorary beneficiary of donations honoring her husband's life and passion.

Because of Scott's background as a music educator and her current role as the Director of Strathmore's Artist in Residence program, BfP chose to honor this generous gift in part through their efforts at RSLAA, a school focused on the arts. McMullen was also a talented photographer who brought that love into his school and to his students through a photography club that he oversaw while teaching at McKinley Tech.

Donations received in memory of James McMullen will help fund two additional shipments of bikes to our Bikes for Education Project over the next year. Each container will hold over 500 bikes and be directed to help students attend school in the Philippines.

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