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VIU students refurbish bikes for Nanaimo teens

NANAIMO – Class project sees future educators provide bicycles for students in need.
VIU Education students repaired and donated four bicycles to John Barsby Community School’s Operation Generation bike program for students in need. Back left to right: Kathleen Paul

By Marilyn Assaf

Christmas will come early for four students at John Barsby Community School in Nanaimo.

They’ll soon be riding new bicycles thanks to the efforts of Vancouver Island University’s education program students.

As part of their final term assignment, the education students refurbished four bikes and donated them to John Barsby’s Operation Generation Bike Club for high school students in need.

Operation Generation relies on community volunteers who work with students to repair donated bikes. In exchange for their volunteer time, high school students get a free bike, helmet, bike lock and lights. The bike program is funded by Hub City Cycles Community Co-op and Island Integrated Counseling Society.

“Our group had to plan and execute a Community Based Action project that would impact the community in a positive way,” said VIU student teacher Kathleen Paul. “We chose the bike project because we have a few avid cyclists in our group, and connections to Oak Bay Bicycles in Nanaimo and to John Barsby’s bike program. There is a big need for refurbished bikes.”

Student teachers Robert Sieben, Alysha Bandali, Alita Dancy, Christine Lynch, Molly Mitchell, Olivia Hill and Paul found donors in the community willing to donate four bikes.

“One of our team members (Christine Lynch) works at Oak Bay Bicycle shop in Nanaimo, and is an expert in bike repair,” adds Paul. “Thanks to her connections, the shop generously donated tools and space to carry out the repairs, and more than $400 in materials including tire tubes, brakes, peddles, handles, brake lines and a new tire. Christine taught us how to repair the bikes.”

On Oct. 7, the education students handed over the refurbished bikes to Operation Generation.

“We appreciate the donation,” said volunteer Tyler Walker. “These bikes will make four high school students very happy. Many youth just don’t have the money for bus passes. In some cases, bikes are the only way for them to get around.”

Marian Riedel, Professor in VIU’s Faculty of Education and mentor leader for the bike project, says it was one of 14 Community Based Action projects completed by students in VIU’s Post Baccalaureate Education program. Other projects initiated by education students increased poverty awareness in the Comox Valley, raised funds for Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal House in Nanaimo, and resulted in a website of resources to promote healthy food choices.

Operation Generation is currently seeking support from adult volunteers. To volunteer for the program, please contact Walker at

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