Japan: Bicycles that expand children’s potential in Cambodia

by Sachie Togashiki

 

In my research about the positive contribution of the use of bicycles to children’s education in developing countries, I found CBB Cambodia. This is a Japanese NGO (non-governmental organisation) consisting of about 20 university students who support Cambodian children by providing bicycles. In spring and summer 2015, the CBB Cambodia devised and managed microfinance to provide Cambodian children with bicycles. A member of the organisation engaged in this project recorded her experience in the organisation’s blog.

The writer, Kumi Sakahashi, realised the influences of bicycles on Cambodian children’s dream job. This is because she encountered a Cambodian boy, Kea, who was about to drop education in his elementary school to support his parents. After CBB’s intervention, Kia did not have to leave school and went to a junior high school. It was because, in spring 2015, CBB Cambodia provided 33 people including Kea with a bicycle. This helped Kea to reduce his commuting time to the school and spend more time on housework and his study. This experience enabled Kea to raise his expectations from becoming a teacher to a doctor. Ms. Sakahashi heard this from Kea in summer 2015. She concludes the blog post by stating that the use of a bicycle enabled Kea to go further places where he saw many different people, resulting in a change of his dream job.

This blog post is significant because it shows the importance of bicycles in terms of widening children’s future possibilities. Ms. Sakahashi explains that without access to advanced education opportunities, children in Cambodia can only be a teacher or a farmer. Jobs requiring far more training such as being a doctor, require much greater opportunity. However, most children in Cambodia give up to go to a junior high school. This is because, according to a crowdfunding website that CBB Cambodia devised in 2014, although there is an elementary school per a village, there is only one junior high school per 3-4 villages, which makes it difficult for children to go. Ms. Sakahashi also argues that, however, with a bicycle, they might be able to continue their education and to aim to get their dream job because bicycles save the time. The children can save money as well as time by helping their parents work. Therefore, bicycles might play a significant role to help children get an education.

 

Source CBB Cambodia: Ready for Japan - Bicycles beyond borders
Source CBB Cambodia: Ready for Japan – Bicycles beyond borders

 

Sakahashi, K. (2015, September 4). A bicycle that expands children’s potential [Web log post].Retrieved from http://cbb-cambodia.org/a-bicycle-expands-possibilities-of-kids.

CBB Cambodia [NGO] (2014, November 28). 100 bicycles for children in Tomato who cannot go to their school. Retrieved from https://readyfor.jp/projects/cycle_beyond_the-borders.

Sachie Togashiki is our Guest Blogger, unveiling some of Japan’s bicycle culture for the fortnight from 11th April to 24th April.

Bike powered toast

It is common knowledge that cycling reduces dependancy on energy consuming products – most notably oil based fuels and petrol used in cars, trucks and other motorised transportation. However within our homes, daily consumable items and white goods use vast amounts of electricity and gas reserves – with little thought going to the cumulative impact that making breakfast, for instance, has on a global scale.  Times each breakfast by the number of people in your household, in your street, in your neighbourhood.. (you get the idea…)…

When looking to analyse the energy consumption needed to produce a standard Western breakfast, each item in turn needs to be considered – and primary to most breakfasts is the humble slice of toast.

So how can bicycles be linked to our breakfasts to teach us a lesson in energy conservation?

How do you like your toast done?

If you are interested to see how much energy it takes to power a toaster so that a slice of bread can be toasted – then look no further. German Olympic track champion (and yes, those thighs ARE REAL) Robert Förstemann teamed up with Stockholm University to produce this video as an reminder and expose to demonstrate just how much energy is required to produce a slice of toast.  It is definitely an effective way to stimulate discussion about breakfast, the merits of cycling and reducing carbon footprints.

The video below is under 3 mins and well worth a watch right to the end to hear what Robert says under his breath as a final private comment about the whole task – pretty much sums it up nicely!

Art Bikes Revealed

Sunday was the revealing of the Bicycles Create Change Summer Program Art Bike Project – and what a success it was!

It was a relaxed, colourful and highly informative session and not even the small amount of rain that came could dampen our enthusiasm. I picked the team up early and everyone was in good spirits as we headed to the Community Gardens. Then the heavens opened and a few worried looks were exchanged. Nevertheless, as always, the sun shone through intermittently and then we had a burst of beautiful blue sky, right on cue as we had our bikes in hand and were rolling out to go and set up. As we walked our ART BIKES down to Bethania Street Community Gardens, we received a few locals honking and shouting out well wishes for our presentation. We arrived in plenty of time to set up and get ready.

The proceedings

We had nine attend, which was perfect (I was aiming for between 5 and 15 for the audience) so there were enough seats. It also meant that when it rained a little at the start, there was enough room for the audience, presenters and all the bikes to fit comfortably under the pavilion. Quickly after that, the weather turned it on and we had gorgeous sunshine for the rest of our time there. After a quick welcome, the order of proceedings and topics for the Art Bikes were:

Sachie – Gender Equality

Juliet – Women’s Emancipation and changing roles

Gabriel – The importance of bicycles in Cameroon Culture

Mauricio – Corruption

Nina – Child Labour

The presenters introduced themselves, their topic/issue and their bike, then discussed how their bike was symbolic of the issue they had chosen. At the end of each bike, the audience asked questions and gave feedback – which was fantastic as there were some very interesting insights and ideas raised.

We then had a brief close and thank you. It was great to see people milling around and making the effort to go and speak to each art bike artist to discuss their own reaction, interpretations and feelings about some of the issues raised during the presentations. It was very relaxed and friendly, with lots of jovial chatting. Conversations that were more profound emerged later on. Thank you very much to the locals and friends who came on the day to participate – your good company and input were very much appreciated.

Garden Butterflies

It was also heart-warming to see people drifting off into the garden to look at what was in bloom and finding something to munch on. I was especially pleased to see how excited Gabriel was to spot cassava growing there – he was delighted to see such a familiar staple food from Africa there, what made it even more awesome was that he had not idea it grew here – GOLD!

Congrats to all!

I was very impressed by the thought, effort and research that each team member had put into their bikes. The symbolism, motifs, creativity and explanations that were demonstrated showed a depth of critical thinking and careful judgement that surpassed expectations and made for a very enjoyable and stimulating morning. The presentations themselves were witty, engaging and well structured. I was incredibly proud of our team and was thrilled to be part of such a meaningful, worthwhile and illuminating event. We plan to have each artist share their bike creation and development process in a guest post on this blog.

Congratulations to the wonderful team members who have worked so hard for so long – I am so proud of you!

Summer Project is complete

The Bicycles Create Change 8-week Summer Program for 2016 is complete!!

 

Hooray!! After a very intense and rewarding 8 weeks, the Bicycles Create Change Summer Program has concluded! Congratulations to Sachie, Gabriel, Juliet and Mauricio for all their hard work, dedication and collaboration. So this completes the official structured course of our innovative 8-week Pilot Internship Program – which means we all get our Saturdays back!!

This Program was unique from other internships in many ways, primarily because the core program principles and design features were tailored to specifically meet the individual needs of each of the participants who have no prior Australian workplace experience. Fundamental to this program was developing more effective intercultural communication skills and competencies through collaboratively working with an array of professionals and locals so that students have a more authentic and meaningful experience of living and working in Australia. As we wrap up and reflect on the experience, the team has come up with eight key insights that they have identified as the main skill areas that they best connected with and improved throughout the program.

 

We learned a lot about ourselves, vocation skills and working in teams, with each member co-creating their own experience and unveiling differing outcomes, acuity and competencies. Today we discussed the valuable learnings and provided feedback for consideration regarding the impacts and challenges personally and those that are experienced by international students navigating connection and interaction in Australian workplaces. We came up with a number of suggestions to be more responsive to the helpful and hindering factors which international students encounter during their work – either at university or in the workplace.

Connections

It was very interesting hearing what the team had to say, saw how the internship was designed to highlight the importance and necessity of connections and working with experts/mentors. We discussed the usefulness and magnitude that working alone, in pairs and/or as a team of four had for the interns. With this understanding, they had a collective realization that collaboratively working with others was more than just a skill, but was also a powerful learning process and required co-creation. This was a revelation and (a now) imperative for a number of the students.

Weekly Tasks

Each week different tasks were set for the interns, which to complete successfully, relied on them to discern, practise and then reflect on the significance of effective team organisation, ability to spontaneously interactions with strangers, relating to clients, building rapport, running meetings, networking and partnerships.

Art Bikes

We still have some outstanding tasks like our public ART BIKE PRESENTATION held on Sunday 13th March at 10.30am at the Bethania Community Garden, Lota, Brisbane. Please come on down and join us if you are in the area! At this informal event, the team will each present their Art Bikes and discuss the social issue that it represents. We are looking forward to seeing some of the lovely people who donated the bike for this project there and it will be a great way to practice all the skills we have been working throughout the program.

Team Member Guest Blog Posts

As part of the Summer Program, each team member has also been researching 5 blog posts to be published on this blog. The content for each of these posts need to be sourced in their first-language – which means we can access information about bicycles project in other countries that we might not otherwise have access if they are not in English. These posts will be published later this year so keep an eye out for them!

 

For today – it is with relief and happiness that we conclude our official contact hours for this program. I am very proud of all the team members, mentors, supporters of this program and, of course the community who have helped and contributed as we progressed – Well done to all!!

Bihar- Girls Bicycle Education Scheme

Bihar – Girls Bicycle Education Scheme

Can giving free bikes get more girls to stay in school? The Bihar Girls Bicycle Education Scheme in India was sponsored by researchers, Karthik Muralidharan (University of California, San Diego) and Nishith Prakash (University of Connecticut), who investigated the effect of providing every schoolgirl aged 14 in Bihar with a bike.

The Results

The results of this bicycle program, launched in 2006, were impressive and immediate. It increased girls’ age-appropriate enrollment in secondary school by 30 percent and reduced the gender gap in age-appropriate secondary school enrollment by 40 percent (Muralidharan and Prakash, 2013). Most significant for me were two main aspects: first, it was undertaken in the poorest, most destitute state in India and second, the scale of the program, which was massive to say the least. Both these aspects make the project not only unique, but seminal, as it sets a precedence for future work to undertaken now that the location and volume have been shown not be to a hinderance in rolling out such programs.

From research to videos

To find out more about the research behind the 6 minute video Moving up a gear (below), you can read: Cycling to school: Increasing high school enrollment for girls in Bihar

Muralidharan and Prakash have since create a second follow-up video: Moving Up A Gear: Update. which provides extra information and a update.

To further explain their approaches, there is a number of papers that have been published to explain the research that provides analysis and monitoring for this scheme – as well as other documentation where the main research is more fully explained.

This bike has Multiple Sclerosis

This remarkable health education initiative really personifies how bicycles can innovate positive social change – in this case, raising awareness about Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

MS Community Education

This initiative brilliantly mixes science, bicycle design, expert collaboration and cyclists to produce a community education campaign where a normal bicycle was augmented in a variety of ways to represent the MS symptoms.

To achieve this, each of the major executive functions on the bike such as the fork, handlebars, seat, frame and gears were altered so that the impact of the disease could be experienced first hand when you try to ride the bike – thus demonstrating the daily challenges that suffers have trying to operate their bodies as this autoimmune disease destroys their nervous system.

Ad Week promoted this ad campaign by giving it international recognition for its ingenuity and creative approach – and very effectively linked this issue to the lived experience of Penelope Conway who is an MS Suffer and informatively and humorously writes about what Multiple Sclerosis really feels like.

The Ad

This bike has Multiple Sclerosis video (2 mins) explains the rationale and research that has gone into the strategic design of this bike.

 

This community awareness campaign is not only effective in reaching a wide audience and communicating its message, but it is clear and has immediate impact. One of the best aspects is that it is specifically designed to be experiential and engaging for the public.

This campaign is a great example of how a creative approach to presenting a public health issue can generate excitement, consideration and interest about an issue such as MS. In doing so, it is highly successful in prompting public education and discussion about what MS is – and the metaphor of a ‘rider’ trying to ‘control a bike’ as being similar to what an MS suffer experiences to control their body, is a stroke of genius. Most people who have no contact or exposure to MS, will be able to easily relate to how difficult it can be to ride a bike if there are mechanical problems.

If only there were more interactive, dynamic and enterprising projects such as this one that can equally correlate the public’s normative experience (of riding a bike) with a emerging/public issue (MS Awareness).

Want to try riding it?

Those in Melbourne next month (March 2016), will have the opportunity to try to ride this bike for yourself at the MS Melbourne Cycle on March 6, 2016 by registering at bike@thisbikehasMS.com.

The team

The Muppets explain Phenomenology

Who said learning couldn’t be fun? Who said understanding research methodologies had to be confusing, serious and only understood by a handful of last year doctorate students and some stuffy academics with the social skills of a potato? Who said kid’s shows like The Muppets are outdated, not relevant or don’t teach the important stuff – like explaining Phenomenology?

 

As a lead into my Ph.D. orientation in a week – I wanted to get my head around some Research Methodologies, so that when I’m sitting in some research workshop and the presenter starts showing off how smart they are by using terms designed to impress and confound the audience, I want to have some grasp of what the hell they are talking about.Then I can decide if they are a wanker showing off or actually worth listening to.

 

 

I have a basic understanding of research approaches, so I am taking the next week to find quick and easy resources that can give me a good overview or introduction to the major research methodologies with which I will come in contact. Thus far, I have found an excellent source which I posted on last week relating to short and informative Methodology videos  – and this week I turn to the Muppets for academic guidance – as all quality scholars have done before me – to understand the fundamentals of Phenomenology.

 

 

Just goes to show that every one and everything really is your teacher – and not to underestimate the mighty learning power of The Muppets, Play School and Sesame Street.  Just to confirm my understanding I also watched the below, slightly less colourful, yet equally informative 6 min video. Now I feel slightly more ready to take on that stuffy professor!!

 

 

It is such a pity I won’t be using Phenomenology methodology – because now I feel like I have a much better understanding about what it is!!

Bicycles Create Change Summer Program 2016

Today is the end of the first week of the Bicycles Create Change Summer Program. This inaugural internship is an 8 week collaborative skills development program, which is specifically tailor designed for – and with – four progressive international students from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds and study majors. The program has three main areas, namely, business project skills, general professional skills and an individual project (self-directed). It was a very busy first week and there are some very interesting outcomes, exchanges and reflections already.

 

Focus: This is an explorative and cooperative participant-focused program, with an emphasis on extending academic skills, developing professional business skills and fostering greater confidence and experience in each participant’s individual specific industry.

 

Rationale: Many students complete their academic bridging studies in December, waiting for 2 months until the end of February for Semester 1 to start. In most cases, this 8 week period is dead time – some go back home to visit family, but most others pass the summer waiting for Uni to go back – in both instances, English proficiency often declines significantly after such an extended break from set study routines. It is very difficult for international students to secure summer break paid work or internships. For the lucky few who do, the work is often menial, fastidiously supervised and devoid of the interns being afforded any genuine ownership and responsibility for the tasks undertaken. Inspired also by Sir Kenneth Robinson’s argument that education kills creativity, this program applies an almost action research element of reflection feedback into praxis loop.

 

The aim is that the participants have direct authority to generate their individual, pair and groups requirements to achieve each of the academic, professional and creative details. This is crucial so that students can have be able to demonstrate that they have experience with the top ten intern employability skills of reliability, willingness to develop new skills, consistency, dealing with constructive criticism, efficacious time management, ethical conduct, prioritising tasks effectively, displaying initiative/self-motivation, commitment to producing superior work and demonstrating professional behaviour (Gault, Leach & Duey, 2010).

 

Perspective: I wanted to look at what it would look like if interns were more directly responsible for the planning and management of their work experience program, so that there could be a move away from the ‘student/learning’ mindset, to better harness and capitalise on each participant’s professional skill and expertise. With this in mind, I designed a program matrix of tasks, processes and resources that gives prominence to enhancing “a greater awareness particularly of their leadership, project management, organisational and team working capabilities” (Jones & Warnock, 2015, p 212).

 

Participants: There are four participants for this program; Sachie – Liberal Arts undergraduate (Japan), Gabriel – Masters in Social Work (Cameroon), Mauricio – IT Masters (Colombia) and Juliet (India) who is undertaking a Masters in Special Education (Autism). I will post intermittent highlights as we progress and you can expect to see guest posts from the participants as they report on bicycle initiatives from their respective corners of the world.

 

This program is being modified and adapted as the each task is undertaken, completed, discussed and reflected on – with the focus being more on the critical reflection of the process. There is much still to plan, deliberate and connect for this program and it will continue to be a work in progress. It has been fascinating to see the solo and team progress, achievements and decisions made thus far already. Although time consuming and slightly stressful at times, it has already proven to be a very productive and gratifying enterprise and I am delighted with the participants’ enthusiasm, commitment and energy so far.

 

Bicycles Create Change: Summer Program
Source: Vehr Communications

 

Gault, J., Leach, E., & Duey, M. (2010). Effects of business internships on job marketability: The employers’ perspective. Education + Training, 52(1), 76-88. doi:10.1108/00400911011017690

Jones, H. M., & Warnock, L. J. (2015). When a PhD is not enough: A case study of a UK internship programme to enhance the employability of doctoral researchers. Higher Education, Skills and Work – Based Learning, 5(3), 212-227. doi:10.1108/HESWBL-05-2014-0013

Dads ‘n’ Lads

Digging through Rotorua’s mountain bike archives, I found this little gem. I thought it was a particularly interesting initiative as it was focused on getting more men riding, whereas it is usually women who are the focus of such programs. I was especially excited about the follow-up outcomes that emerged out of this program.

Background

Indeed, this program was developed following the highly successful Women’s Activator Series and its ongoing positive outcomes (a collaboration between Sport Bay of Plenty (BOP) and Rotorua District Council and Primary Health Services) in conjunction with the results of a 2006 survey, that found “that men enjoyed male-only environments and opportunities to get active with family members. Men preferred an element of competition and challenge to the physical activity as having a structured and encouraging environment was as important a motivator as the fitness benefits” (Fowler & Mansell, 2008).

The Program

The Program was 1-1.5 hour every Thursday evening for 10 weeks. It had support from local individuals and groups who provided shuttle transportation, expert guides, a personal trainer for the weekly pre-ride stretch sessions and the like. Basic bike skills were learned and practiced at the local BMX track for the first fortnight to build confidence and skills while individual fitness levels were determined. The rest of the Program was conducted in the forest, where a new skill was introduced each week – designed to scaffold skills and confidence.

Bicycles Create Change - First timers in the Whakarewarewa Forest
First timers in the Whakarnewarewa Forest. Source: Fowler & Mansell, 2008.

The Program identified three main aims (Fowler & Mansell, 2008): first: to increase the frequency and commitment participants have to physical activity over and beyond the 10-week series period; second: to increase the skills and 
confidence of beginner mountain bike riders; finally: to increase the usage of the 
Whakarewarewa forest by participants for mountain biking and other forms of recreation with family and friends.

Participants

An ad was run on December 18th 2007 in the local Daily Post newspaper (see image below) reading: “Calling all men. No matter your age, shape, size or speed (in fact, the slower the better) – this training series is for YOU & it’s FREE! For the past 3 years, we have had the Women’s Activator Series, but now it is time for something for the blokes…. Dad ‘n’ Lads is a 10 week fun run and mountain bike training series aimed at men who are currently not very active, but would like to improve their fitness, have some laughs at the same time and discover some great walking/running/cycling to share with family and friends once the series is over. For 10 weeks you will enjoy a weekly training session, which will have options for the beginners and progress to more challenging routes as your fitness increases. How much you challenge yourself is up to you!” 42 men responded to the ad (including 3 father and son partnerships) – of which 20 completed the program.

Bicycles Create Change - Dads 'n' Lads
Source: Daily Post, December 18th 2007
Outcomes

The 3 main aims of the program were met. Overall there were 5 main noteworthy outcomes of this program.

  1. Activity levels increased remarkably by week 10 with 60% increasing their activity to 2-3 days per week while the other 40% had increased their activity level to a minimum of 30 mins per day.
  2. Increased assertiveness using the Whakarewarewa Forest for recreation. Confidence and familiarity with the forest meant that participants felt confident to take family and friends into the forest for recreational activities.
  3. Setting and achieving goals such as fitness, strength or weight-loss, increased general activity levels (on the bike and in the forest) father/son bonding and forming new friendships were some of the top goals achieved.
  4. Educating others was a key feature of the program that every participant identified with, having involved or taken out for a ride, at least, one family member (wife, child or grandchild). The top 3 skills that were instrumental in taking out others that were learnt from the program, was: setting up the bike correctly, basic riding techniques and being able to change a flat tyre.
  5. Valued outcomes for the participants included: structured, yet informal/social setting, having bikes available to rent for the activity and the mutual support of the other men.
Follow-up positive changes

This Program had clear aims and solid support throughout, which meant that there was a consistent and reliable basis for the participants to develop their confidence, skills and networks. I think it is exciting that many participants put these skills into action and took others out into the forest, for family outings for example, increasing fitness; increasing appreciation and use of the amazing forest on their doorstep; and enhancing quality time with others – which shows the potential that such community programs have for ongoing indirect positive impacts benefiting a greater number of people in the community.

Also, it is great to hear that the participants formed their own group ride after the program finished – to maintain the camaraderie, skills and habits they had learnt. Their monthly group ride also includes their family members, which is a wonderful way of extending the enjoyment, fitness, ability and community that this program began.

Bicycles Create Change - Dads 'n' Lads group
Dads ‘n’ Lads Participants Source: Fowler & Mansell, 2008.

 

Fowler, A., & Mansell, L. (2008). Dads ‘N’ lads – getting men on the move with rotorua’s beginner mountain bike series.Australasian Parks and Leisure, 11(2), 34-37.

Do education levels effect cycling rates?

I was looking at research from America, trying to get a sense of how many high school students cycle to school. I found a small, but very interesting study from Davis,  California. It specifically looked at what are the major dis/encouragements for high school students in relation to biking to school.

Source: Solar Napper Commuter Information
Source: Solar Napper Commuter Information

Problem: The dwindling number of students who actively travel to school is a logical growing concern in the US. The article states that in 1969, 87% of all trips less than 1.6kms to school were on bike or foot, whereas in 2001, less than 1% of students aged 5-15 were biking to school. The authors are bold enough to argue that such travel habit changes – which once initiated in childhood,  are continued into adulthood; have a direct negative impact on wider social issues such as the national obesity rates and climate change.

Response: To try and combat low active travel to school, a US Federal Initiative called ‘Safe Routes to School,’ was implemented in 2005, at a cost of US$612 million to help promote safe walking and bike access to schools. Since then, a number of studies have assessed the results and effectiveness – and these are the studies I have been looking at this week.

This study caught my eye for a few key reasons. Firstly, it specifically focused on high school students (AU years 10-12), whereas most other US research on active student mobility concentrates on junior high (years 7-9) students. Secondly, this research solely looked at biking, as opposed to most others, which considered walking and biking together.

saferouteswa.org
Source: saferouteswa.org

Findings: Here are a few highlights of interest from this Study.

Gender: Overall, more male students ride than female students.

Age: Cycling to school rates decreased with (increased) age and grade levels – meaning the older you get and the higher your grade level, you ride less to school.

License: Getting a drivers license cuts the already low cycling rate in half again.

Riders: Those who do ride to school, often use their bike to ride to many places regularly, not just school.

Compound factors: Being female, having access to a car and having a drivers license, had the biggest impact on lowering cycling results.

Convenience: Many students said that they used a car not a bike as they left campus for lunch and needed to be back in time for afternoon classes (from what little I know about US high school canteens, I wouldn’t eat there either!)

Portability: Carrying books and school gear was highlighted as a major issue for students who said that transporting ‘stuff’ to and from school was a significant consideration for biking or not.

Parental Influence: Parents had a greater influence on cycling choices than peers, but this is not surprising as parents provide an access choice for non-biking by readily chauffeuring or allowing licensed students to use family cars.

Most surprising finding: For me the most surprising comment was that there was a link between parental education levels and the likelihood of bicycling to school. The authors observed that ‘having a parent with at least a bachelor degree increased the odds of bicycling, most likely reflecting both high education levels and high bicycle commuting levels among parents who work at the university’ (p.76). I found this very interesting, as I had never stopped to fully consider a link between cycling and educational levels and have not found other studies that have claimed such a connection either. I will keep an eye on the literature and see if this is echoed elsewhere.

Is there a connection between higher education levels and cycling?

_____________________________________________________

Emond, C. R., & Handy, S. L. (2012). Factors associated with bicycling to high school: Insights from Davis, CA. Journal of Transport Geography, 20(1), 71-79. doi:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2011.07.008