Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cycling4Diversity celebrates 5 years

Cycling for Diversity sees fifth year

On the Spot by Ken Herar
The Cycling4Diversity team finished its 11-city tour with 15 schools during Cyling4Diversity Week from May 17 to 23.
The first two days of our four-day trip took us to five Okanagan communities and six  schools. The main message of our ride was to encourage students to embrace diversity and to do one positive act during the week.
The makeup of diversity is very different in the Okanagan compared to the Lower Mainland. School principals and mayors from the various communities cycled with us to our locations.
The Cycling4Diversity Foundation also celebrated its fifth year, surpassing 100 schools and visiting every community from Vancouver to Chilliwack, along with Victoria and the Okanagan. This could not have been done without many of our team members and community sponsors.
I was recently asked if I thought C4D has made has made a difference. Hearing the responses from teachers, parents and students, I would have to say our team has made a difference and our organization is growing in a positive direction.
This year we were fortunate to be able to have Abbotsford Police Det. Roy McBeth, who joined us for two days. He delivered a powerful and emotional message about how his son had some struggles in school and how the other children joined him in helping him finish a race around the track. He also shared about getting a kidney from his boss, who was able to donate a part of his kidney, giving McBeth a second chance. Through this experience he shared that we’re all the same inside and bleed red.
Harjit Sajjan, a lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian military, who joined us for the first day said, “I realized that a shared experience can really light up a kid’s day.”
As he was recounting his experiences in Bosnia, a pair of students mentioned they grew up in the Balkan country. Sajjan addressed them with the country’s traditional greeting and watched them light up – transforming from timid and shy into smiling and happy. “Being different is unique and being unique gives us strength.”
Now, that we’ve met our first milestone, I feel the best is still yet to come for C4D.

Cycling4Diversity visits White Rock


Cyclists talk diversity at White Rock City Hall

Ken Herrar (right), Roy McBeth (with bike) and other Cycling4Diversity members are addressed by Mayor Wayne Baldwin during a stop at White Rock City Hall May 21. - Tracy Holmes
Ken Herrar (right), Roy McBeth (with bike) and other Cycling4Diversity members are addressed by Mayor Wayne Baldwin during a stop at White Rock City Hall May 21.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes
Cyclists with a mission to "talk to all kids about diversity" made a stop at White Rock City Hall last month.
For the Cycling4Diversity team, led by Ken Herar, it was the last stop on Day 3 of a four-day trek to spread the message.
Launched five years ago, after Herar was denied entry to a Christmas party because he was South Asian, the message has been shared at about 100 schools so far – 16 in 11 cities this year alone.
In welcoming the team, Mayor Wayne Baldwin expressed appreciation for their efforts to discuss cultural diversity, encourage inclusion and "expand circles of friendship."
Baldwin also shared a diversity experience of his own, talking about growing up in Kitimat after the war. People came from around the world to work there, he said.
"My friends growing up were a mixed bag, to say the least," Baldwin told the cyclists.
"We all forgot the stuff that happened during the war. We all became friends and just forgot about all that crap.
"That's what kids do when given an opportunity."
Anne-Marie Sjoden, executive director of Cycling4Diversity, said the movement is becoming known worldwide.
Participant Roy McBeth, a detective with the Abbotsford Police Department, described the ride as "very eye-opening… and somewhat emotional."
He joined in the hopes of raising awareness of the importance of organ donation, including the under-representation in different races of those willing to donate.
The ride finished in Abbotsford on May 22.
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