Adventist Health and World Vision International recently donated dozens of bicycles to help 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.
Adventist Health, a church-run health system based in Roseville, California, United States, facilitated the delivery of 111 bicycles in coordinated efforts with leaders of Montemorelos University as well as municipal leaders of General Terán, Allende, and Montemorelos districts in the Nuevo Leon State in December 2021. An additional 250 bicycles will be delivered by the end of February 2022, with five more deliveries planned throughout the year.
Representatives of the health and education sectors of the Mexican state government, representatives from Montemorelos University, municipal mayors of each region, representatives from the North Mexican Union Conference (NMUC) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and John Schroer, Global Mission System Lead for Adventist Health, attended special events to mark distribution of the first bicycles.
“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,” Schroer said.
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.
Roel Cea, NMUC health ministries director and director of health promotion for universities in Mexico, has coordinated efforts with municipal leaders. Cea said that each region has a vested 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,” Cea said.
During a preliminary 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 committed to ensuring that each bicycle would get to the students who needed them the most at middle schools and high schools in the region.
“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,” Rojas said.
After the initial distribution of the bicycles, a meeting to consolidate the social impact of the project, which includes promoting healthy communities, took place after the individual community events and was attended by Schroer, municipal presidents Daniel Sánchez of General Terán, Patricia Salazar of Allende, and Miguel Salazar of Montemorelos. Ismael Castillo, Montemorelos University president, Cea, and Arturo King, NMUC president, attended on behalf of Montemorelos University.
“It has been very rewarding to see these bicycles get in the hands of students who really need them,” Schroer said.
Partnering with Montemorelos University has been a win-win experience, he said.
“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,” Schroer said.
The recent Adventist Health donation included a 26-foot cargo truck provided by Adventist Health Rideout that will facilitate distribution of the bicycles as well as medical supplies for Adventist Health clinic partners throughout northern Mexico.
Lisandra Vicente and Brenda Cerón contributed to this report.