Bikes for the World

Friday, June 2, 2017

Art Matters

For any young person today, simple every day life in school can be emotionally draining. There are pressures from family to do well in school and get good grades. There are pressures from peers to fit in. There are pressures from strangers who may bully or demean students in a trend that seems to be growing daily. Finding the space to focus on learning can feel like an unattainable chore.

Rodney Grant helped establish PCW
For young residents in the community known locally in Barbados as 'The Pines', life, itself, can be a challenge.  Add to the above, living in poverty, not getting enough to eat, watching mom and dad struggle to find good jobs and you might find a student who has given up before they've even tried.

Pinelands Creative Workshop (PCW) is a community organization working to overcome these challenges and improve the lives of students in their neighborhood.  PCW was created to ease that burden decades ago and continues to thrive today after constantly growing and reinventing themselves to keep up with the changing stresses and challenges on the students within their community.

The overall goal of PCW is to provide compensatory education to vulnerable persons in communities across Barbados as a viable pathway out of poverty. Only a community organization can use an initiative like BfW to do so much with so little.

Through the sales of our donated bikes, PCW is able to run a full service bike shop, employ mechanics, and raise funds to help support projects within their program which focus on using art education to improve lives. While Pinelands Creative Workshop may seem like nothing more than a cool place to hang out with friends after school, what this organization provides to its young participants goes much deeper than that. And goes far beyond a bike simply providing transportation.

On the surface, PCW seems to be offering dance classes, music lessons, and theatre opportunities in addition to their academic mentoring and supplemental education. And that's exactly it.

To 8 year old Danisha, all she knows is she likes dancing at PCW after school and hanging out with her friends. But deep down even she knows it's more than that. Through dance, she told Outreach Coordinator Yvette Hess, "I learned how to be myself." At eight.

What we see PCW providing is a working classroom: Expression. Collaboration. Focus. Confidence. Accountability. Responsibility. Those same art based after school extra curricular activities that Danisha loves so much are critical to childhood development and will continue to serve her, and her community, well throughout life.

PCW has reshaped elements our our mission at Bikes for the World, to enhance lives through better transport, and expanded it to better fit the needs of their community by offering a less tangible but equally important development platform for youth. And we are thrilled to see them adapt our program to serve their community...that's really what we are about, improving lives. 

Doing that through the arts is genius, especially in a tourist-centric nation that relies on the performing arts as a way of life. The arts also strengthen problem solving and critical thinking. Students learn to make choices and understand the value of their participation in the overall productions. They learn about sharing responsibility and how perseverance can pay off. They take pride in the end result after putting in the hard work it took to get there. They are developing a routine for success.

Art encourages young people to express their thoughts and ideas in a variety of ways. It opens lines of communications and brings topics that are relevant to them to the forefront. It encourages strangers to open up and learn from someone who is exactly like them or a polar opposite.

Art introduces the idea of peaceful resolution to the classroom, dance hall, stage, or recital room. Most of all art brings inclusion into a closed circle. It opens, embraces, and beats like a drum or a heart. Art lays the foundation for understanding, acceptance, and compassion. Just like the bike, art brings people together and transports them to a better place.