High Schoolers in District 203 are racing for education, in hopes of making a difference in Africa. Through the district’s Learning Readiness Physical Education (LRPE) program, the students combined what they’re reading in class with what they’re doing in P.E. As motivation, teachers turned the project into a fundraiser, sending bicycles to kids in Africa.
When students in Marc O’Shea’s reading class were studying Marshall “Major” Taylor, a champion athlete who overcame racism to compete as a bicyclist in 1899, he saw a great opportunity to combine that with the spinning the students were doing in PE.
“We have a great connection and a marriage with the P.E. classes,” said O’Shea. “They wanted the kids to be aware of what cycling is and do some one-mile tests. In their English classes, they’re reading about historical figures and cyclists.”
The group took it a step further and tied in another part of the District’s mission, community contribution. The students joined forces with Naperville North LRPE classes and have spent the last few weeks raising money for the Chicago organization “World Bicycle Relief” which sends bikes to Africa. Each bike costs $134.
“It’s shocking for the kids,” said O’Shea. “Looking at the quality of the roads and duration it takes to get to the schools, they are surprised when they hear about 14 year olds walking six hours by foot, and then cutting it to an hour and a half.”
Over at Central, O’Shea and a few other teachers told the students for every dollar raised, they would bike a mile. They started out on a stationary bike in the lobby. In order to complete the miles, the teachers were allowed to bike outside and let students help as well.
“I’m happy I biked and happy we did it because it helps them,” said Taryn Anderson, a freshman at NCHS. “We’re actually grateful to be in this and helping them.”
They wrapped up the project at an assembly, where students got a chance to hear from the Co-Founder of World Bicycle Relief about the impact the students are making. They also had the opportunity to Skype with Bryce Walsh, an athlete currently riding through Tanzania in the Tour d’ Afrique.
“It’s probably the worst roads I’ve seen in my life,” said Walsh. “There’s been times where it’s just two trenches between lava rock and sand. You just bounce through the entire thing.”
One student even got to race against Principal Bill Weisbrook on a stationary bike.
Naperville North took a slightly different route. Their campaign was Change for Change. The kids raised money throughout the week. Their event also ended with an assembly where a student raced against Principal Kevin Pobst.
“I was hoping every single kid would bring in 35-50 cents,” said John Fiore, Instructional Coordinator, Wellness Department, NNHS. “It was an easy way for kids to get involved. Some kids embraced it. Some kids brought in whatever money they had in their pockets and then some.”
Between both Naperville North and Central, students raised more than $1,600 dollars. That’s enough for 12 bikes to send to Africa.
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