PEDAL IT FORWARD
Felicia Ochs’ post on Day 31 inspired me. Human resiliency is the fascinating, and often inspiring story of an individual who overcomes inequitable systems. Magic occurs when a child turns the limited assets of their world into a formula for success. Often the assets that spark the magic are simple, and can be found close to our own hearts.
When I was young, my father took me to local RCMP bicycle auctions to buy one or two old and broken bikes, combine all the good parts, and build one nice bike. At one memorable bike auction, my dad had bid 50 cents on a bike. It was the third bike that had been wheeled out onto the auction block, with broken brake cables, a missing wheel, or handlebars dangling uselessly from the bike frame. My father’s bids of 50 cents on each of the first two bikes had not been challenged. As the third sad bike was wheeled out for bidding, a few interested onlookers turned to watch my father. They were not disappointed; my father placed his 50 cent bid. Then someone spoke out, and raised the bid to one dollar. Amused laughter rippled through the onlookers, and then the crowd fell silent in anticipation. My dad did not counter. He turned to me and said, “That bike is only worth 50 cents”. The guy, who challenged my father in jest, had to pay one dollar for his broken 50 cent bike.
Many of us have stories about the first time they were inspired to pursue a lifelong passion. My passion is cycling and rebuilding old bikes.
A few years ago, some Edmonton citizens came up with an idea for youths who were repeatedly committing petty crimes; stealing, breaking down, and selling bicycles. These youths lived in a world of limited assets, and poor odds for success. A bicycle workshop was set up in the youths’ neighborhood. Volunteers teach the youths how to rebuild bikes that otherwise would have been thrown away. Youths who complete the program, called The Spoke, have the chance to lead future sessions with other kids from the community. Each youth leaves The Spoke with their very own bicycle. Most importantly, The Spoke is a safe place to hang out, where committed bicycle enthusiasts and semi-trained mechanics provide the youths with mentorship, encouragement and a belief in their abilities.
Wouldn’t it be great if more of us recognized what we have to offer? Wouldn’t it be great if more kids had a chance?
Claire Finnamore is an Educational Assistant in the MYALT classroom at Stony Plain Central. In her spare time, she is a volunteer bike mechanic at Edmonton Bikeworks.
Image via Flickr cc