Integrating school children in the surrounding community. This was the idea of Caio Dib in 2014. The educator had just traveled around Brazil looking at innovative education initiatives and their effects. He then began approaching other students from his school, in Santi, as well as students in Paraíso.
As part of the project Transform+ação (Transform + action), ideas come from the students, who will be the ones to put them into action. The children go out in the region, propose activities, plan, and execute each step.
The project began during the World Cup (2014), with students mapping out locations they thought tourists would like, and creating and distributing brochures in three languages. They were able to get 50 supporters on Catarse (a crowdfunding site) providing R$ 3,670 (USD $1,178) in just 23 days, which financed the production of 2,000 brochures and 200 banners. In 2015, Caio was joined by another educator, Renata, to coordinate activities with the students.
The most recent action completed was the production of bike racks to be installed at various commercial centers in the region. The idea grew out of a discussion about urban mobility, in which the students decided they would fight for a bike lane to be painted in front of their school. At first, the plan was to just contract the CET (Traffic Engineering Company). Liane Lane, a lawyer from Minha Sampa, was contacted to help the kids, who wished to have structures to park their bike. It was from these conversations that the initiative to install neighborhood bike racks began.
Among the children who participate in the extracurricular activity, two are cyclists. One of them rides her bike everyday, to school and also as part of volunteer work for Bike Anjo (a program in which current cyclists teach others how to ride). After defining their goal, they began connecting with merchants and small businesses in the region in order to judge the level of interest and how many bike racks would be needed.
The crowdfunding campaign began in June and raised R$ 2,265 (USD $727) in 30 days – enough to cover the cost of production, paint, and installation, as well as gifts for the supporters. Meanwhile the students were able to find a company that could produce the racks for a lower price, so they switched to this supplier.
At this time, six bike racks have been produced and three have been installed at commercial locations in the neighborhood. One of them, a fitness center, had originally been interested in getting two racks, but then changed its mind. However, the students had already been in touch with two office buildings that were interested in better serving cyclists. A new fundraising campaign was launched with the goal of turning this and other stories from Transform+ação into a book.
The initial objective of the project “Paraíso Goes by Bike” was to improve the way everyone gets around the neighborhood, beginning with cyclists. In addition to making the area better for those who bike, the children also maintain contact with merchants, to move towards the shared goal of making the place more welcoming to those who walk as well.
How could children play a role in improving your community? Does your city use transportation improvements to support local businesses? Share your thoughts and city’s stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.