Unloved bikes are returning to the road thanks to an initiative at Nelson’s Trafalgar Middle School.
Thirty-eight donated bikes are in various stages of repair by students who are learning there’s more to cycling than pushing pedals.
Grade 8 teacher Martin Corbett says he took on an idea by Principal Paul Luck to introduce a cycling component that has been embraced by his students.
“They’re getting the opportunity to work with their hands very tangibly. They’re getting the opportunity to work together to problem solve,” said Corbett.
“I really thought it was going to be at first a bit more traditional, [like] here’s how to fix a tire. It’s been pretty cool how they really work together and create kind of a bike building community where everybody’s kind of working on something different based off of what the bike needs.”
Corbett’s class is one of Trafalgar’s lifelong exploration courses, which are weekly afternoon classes that are multi-age and offer students choices of more traditional classes like athletics and drama as well as unique topics such as International Cuisine, Maker Space and Robotics, and Green Leadership.
When the semester began, Corbett’s students created posters and wrote a call-out for disused bikes. Even in a city known for its biking community, the overwhelming response was still a surprise for Corbett.
“It’s been funny hearing when people email me ‘hey we have a bike’ and there’s two degrees of connection on how they donated that bike or how they heard about it.”
When the weather is good students go for a class ride once a week, which fits the province-wide push for increased outdoor education during the pandemic.
But the program also makes sense at Trafalgar, where Luck has made student mental health a focus in its curriculum.
Corbett said his students are learning not just a skill, but also how it feels to provide for others. The bikes, after all, are available to all of Trafalgar’s students — even the ones not taking the class.
“I think it’s pretty cool to see the kids know that these bikes are being used by other classes and it’s created a really good school community,” he said.
“I feel like they have a lot of pride behind knowing that they are fixing something for somebody else as well. That’s helping them with their own connection to other people. Personally, I think that that’s where a lot of mental health can start with is just working on your connections within your community.”
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