School is bike in session. No, that isn't a typo. When these young students from Concepcion Integrated School (CIS) in the Philippines went back to school, the first order of business was getting set up on their bikes. CIS is in their fourth year of working with Bikes for the Philippines (BfP) and they just introduced their fourth batch of beneficiaries (32 students) to the program this school year.
CIS knows the value of the this program and the importance bikes play in the education of their students. They have already seen numerous graduates come through the bike program, which was put into the school to help combat drop out rates plaguing the community. Most of the selected beneficiaries live between 2-4 miles from school. They span every grade level.
Jenlerma is a sixth grader who received a bike and went through a maintenance program to learn how to care for it. She now knows how to change a flat tire and adjust the brakes on her bike. Joel Uichico, the Director of BfP, points out that the students undergo extensive training sessions that cover everything from road safety and first aid to how to repair a flat. Several students in the school are also trained to be bike mechanics so they can help the other kids in the bike club maintain their bikes.
Joel also notes that in addition to providing needed transportation to school, this program is helping to build stronger communities. Everyone needs to come together from teachers to parents to help make this project sustainable and successful. This love and support rubs off on everyone connected to this collaborative effort. The kids inevitably end up contributing back either to the school, their families, the community, even to each other; they become better people.
Parents and teachers need to be partners in this program. We provide incentives to students when they follow the rules. We also do community rides, bonding sessions, and attend events like bike expos.Verna Geni Macapagal- Bike Coordinator at CIS
Two of the new cyclists from the elementary class, both named Ralph (and seen in the video below), are excited to be part of the program. They both admit it's so much easier to come to class now that they have bikes. They used to spend a lot of time and energy walking to school and now they can get to class in a quarter of the time. At home they have more time to study and at school they arrive on time and prepared for class. Ralph Laurence says he also uses his bike at home to help with family errands. Older beneficiary, Rommel agrees, and adds that he uses his bike to help with the family farm.