“I want to help other people be the best they can be.”
These are the words of Aimee, a Year 5 student at Matthew Flinders Anglican College who took part in a sponsored Cycle-a-Thon in support of World Bicycle Relief.
Judy Parker, Primary Admissions Assistant, says the Cycle-a-thon concept was the brainchild of the school’s Student Representative/Round Square Committee.
She says: “This was an event for all students from Prep to Year 6. They rode their bikes during PE classes and those without bikes could walk or scooter.
“The Student Committee thought it would be a great idea to encourage school families to get involved to raise awareness of the cause. So, we set a challenge of cycling around the Queensland border…virtually!”
Given that Queensland is almost five times the size of Japan, seven times the size of the United Kingdom, and two and a half times the size of Texas, the border perimeter came in just shy of 10,000 kilometres.
COVID-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns presented no obstacles for the 560 students and their families who took part. They raised over $12,000 and beat their target of cycling the border and returning to Matthew Flinders Anglican College by an additional 1,000 kilometres!
Judy says: “Our families sent in the number of kilometres they had ridden each week, so it was definitely a community effort!”
While the event was an ideal opportunity for children to get outdoors and be active, Judy says it was also a chance to highlight inequality around the globe, particularly as children and families deal with the many impacts of the pandemic.
Year 4 student Dexter said: “It is important to help other people, especially people who don’t have as much as we have. Some people have really long journeys to school and a bike can really help. Then when they get there, they still have time for learning things.”
My bicycle is important to me because it makes me feel free
Judy adds that Student Committee members maximised opportunities to use the event to build awareness of the challenges facing their peers in other parts of the world.
She explains: “Students spoke at school assemblies, gave presentations to every class in the Primary School, and sent posts about World Bicycle Relief to parents.
“They talked about how this event and the fundraising would help change lives.”
For the students, the Cycle-a-thon was also a welcome break from classroom learning, and a chance to rediscover the Power of Bicycles.
Aimee says: “My bicycle is important to me because it makes me feel free.” Dexter enjoyed the extra family bike rides, while Nathan in Year 4, said: “Riding is fun. You can go fast to more places and, if there is a lot of traffic, you go past it.
For Rafe, who started school this year, his bicycle remains one of his most prized possessions. His joy is simple and uncomplicated: “I can go fast, like a rocket!”