When Naperville high school students started fundraising for World Bicycle Relief, they were aiming to raise enough for one bicycle.
But once they got on a roll, they didn’t stop and wound up with enough for 12.
“You are … global community contributors,” Marc O’Shea, Naperville Central High School instructional coordinator for academic support, told students at a recent assembly.
The project started with students in Central’s learning readiness physical education program that combines exercise and academics to help stimulate the brain. Students have been spinning for exercise while in reading classes, some Central students have been learning about Marshall “Major” Taylor, a black bicyclist who overcame racism to become a world champion in 1899.
Looking for a way to make a stronger connection with the reading, Central students teamed up with World Bicycle Relief, a Chicago-based group that has sent more than 100,000 bicycles to people in Asia and Africa.
Central students collected pledges for their teachers to work off by cycling. Teachers Marc O’Shea and Neil Duncan and Jeff Yanke now are on the hook to ride 900 miles in the coming weeks to make good on the pledges. They recently rode several hundred while in the school’s lobby. North students also jumped in to help by asking for donations while Principal Kevin Pobst rode a stationary bike at his school.
Together they raised about $1,600, enough to send 12 bikes to Africa. To celebrate, Central students recently took part in an assembly where they watched Principal Bill Wiesbrook and freshman Will Hess race to see who could pedal for a mile on stationary bikes the fastest. They then got to hear from World Bicycle Relief co-founder Leah Missbach Day who told them about the difference a bike can make for someone.
“This is an industrial revolution in an individual’s life,” she said.
A girl she met in Zambia named Maureen, for instance, walks seven miles each way to get to school. With a bicycle to shave off the time it takes to get back and forth, she can spend more time helping her family with chores, is less tired and is more likely to stay in school, Missbach Day said.
The bikes also make a difference for people trying to earn a living, she told students.
To read the whole story, visit here: http://triblocal.com/naperville/2012/03/26/students-sending-bikes-to-africa/
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