Adventist Health and World Vision International have partnered to donate and distribute dozens of bicycles to middle school and high school students in Northern Mexico. The project, Bicycles That Change Lives, aims to reduce school dropout rates and encourage physical activity. Students will use the bicycles for commuting to and from school and for general recreation.
In December 2021, Adventist Health facilitated the first delivery, which included 111 bicycles. Efforts were coordinated with leaders from Montemorelos University and municipal leaders of the General Terán, Allende, and Montemorelos districts in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. An additional 250 bicycles will be delivered in February with five more deliveries planned throughout the year.
To qualify for a bicycle, students must be enrolled in the current school year, have limited resources, have no other means of transportation, have a history of good school behavior, and meet a specified grade point average during the last school period.
The donation from Adventist Health included a 26-foot cargo truck provided by Adventist Health Rideout that will facilitate delivery of the bicycles as well as medical supplies for Adventist Health clinic partners throughout Northern Mexico.
Distribution of the bicycles to students was launched at community events that were attended by representatives of the health and education sectors of the Mexican state government, representatives from Montemorelos University, municipal mayors in the three regions of Nuevo Leon, representatives from the North Mexican Union Conference, and John Schroer, Global Mission System Lead for Adventist Health.
“Our goal is to build strong and healthy communities. It is very exciting for us to see the beginning of this program and look to the future to bring other programs to these communities,” said Schroer. “It is also very rewarding to see these bicycles get in the hands of students who really need them.”
During a planning meeting weeks before the bicycles were delivered, María Guadalupe Rojas, representative of the public education secretary of Nuevo Leon, thanked donors and the Adventist church for the initiative and expressed their commitment to ensuring that each bicycle would get to the students who need them most.
“I love this project, and I know that the supervisors and principals of these schools will be so happy with this project as well as the families and students who will benefit from the bicycles,” said Rojas.
A meeting to consolidate the social impact of the project, which includes promoting healthy communities, was also held in December and attended by Schroer; municipal presidents Daniel Sánchez of General Terán, Patricia Salazar of Allende, and Miguel Salazar of Montemorelos; Ismael Castillo, Montemorelos University president; Roel Cea, director of health promoting ministries in Mexico; and Arturo King, president of the North Mexican Union Conference.
Cea said that each of the three regions in Northern Mexico has an invested interest in the logistics of the project, from the donation of the bicycle to the selection of bicycle recipients. “Each of the sectors has a specific responsibility so that the social impact of the project can be effectively accomplished in each region,” he said.
Schroer said that partnering with Montemorelos University has been a win-win experience.
“Students at the university who are distributing the bicycles get to interact with younger students in the community and get to know them, while community members have the opportunity to explore the world of higher education at Montemorelos,” said Schroer.
— Kim Strobel is project manager: religion, faith and mission, for the Office of Mission, Mission and Spiritual Care, Adventist Health.