If you have a daughter, you should really watch this video:
As I watch, I can't help but think of my own daughters—the dreams they have, and the opportunities they'll be afforded to bring those dreams to life. I also think about how I want to teach them, as they grow up, about the importance of helping to make dreams come true for those who have less than we do.
Just last week, my three-year-old proudly counted the money she'd been saving in her piggy bank and used it to buy her first bike. It's adorable and pink, and equipped with training wheels, a little white basket (to hold her dolls!), and a parent handle so I can help her learn to ride. This bike wasn't purchased out of necessity or as a form of transportation. Rather, it was bought for fun. To promote exercise. And, to celebrate my daughter growing up.
In rural Ghana, Africa, bicycles serve a very different purpose. While my daughter is driven four minutes every morning to attend preschool where she's learning to spell her name, recognize patterns, and play nicely with her friends, children in Ghana, if they're able to go to school at all, are often required to walk up to four hours just to get there. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to focus or absorb information after walking that far. And, it's easy to see why many kids don't make it to school at all.
This is why The Cadbury Bicycle Factory is such a great and important initiative. Since The Cadbury Bicycle Factory opened in 2009, more than 18,000 bikes have been built and sent to students in Ghana. They're called Nframa (the Ghanaian word for "wind") and are customized, one-speed bicycles with sturdy frames made for the rugged terrain of these rural regions.
These bicycles significantly reduce travel time to and from school—making it possible for more kids (especially girls) to attend. By bike, travel time is only about an hour a day. This means kids save 600 hours a year, or 25 full school days. All of this time savings is allowing girls to stay in school longer, which, according to the founder and director of Village Bicycle Project, David Peckham, means many girls are waiting longer to have children. The result: improved quality of life for both the girls and their babies.
On the ground in Ghana, Cadbury works with Village Bicycle Project, an organization that provides bikes, spare parts, and tools to local communities, while also offering training to help bike owners with maintenance and repair. And, because these kids have never had access to bicycles before, they're also teaching them how to ride. Something I imagine I'll be spending a lot of time doing with my daughter this summer.
The great value in this program is not only its ability to help all of these students in African villages, but also its ability to promote giving back right here in Canada. This is a great opportunity for parents to demonstrate to their kids how much potential we have to help others and achieve real results.
Cadbury is committed to helping develop Ghanaian farming communities where they source their cocoa and to improving lives of those living there. Canadian families have the opportunity to help the company reach their goal for 2013—to deliver 5,000 more bikes to the cocoa-growing communities of Ghana.
And it is easy to participate. Together with your kids, you can log in every day to thebicyclefactory.ca and work toward assembling a real bike that will dramatically improve the life of a student in Africa. It's the ultimate in giving back! And you could enter to win a trip of a lifetime to help deliver the bikes in Ghana!
The Cadbury Bicycle Factory website is bringing virtual bike making to life in a fun and interactive way. Sign up as an individual or as a team and start building. Simply drag your favourite virtual sweet (mmm Mini Eggs) through the portal, and watch as it turns into a bike part. You can build up to five parts each day. Check in on The Cadbury Bicycle Factory Facebook Page to catch the latest updates and discussions from the Bicycle Factory community.
This summer, as I watch my daughter experience the joys of riding a bike for the first time, I'll also be talking with her about the importance of helping others both in our own community and around the world. We won't only be saving money in her piggy bank for the things she wants, but also to use toward charitable causes. I hope to teach her not only how to ride her own bike, but also about the children in places like Ghana for whom bicycles mean improved quality of life and the unfounded opportunity to see a dream (like becoming a pilot) actually become a reality.