By: Jen Russon
The playground at Pine Trails Park — located within walking distance of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is the drop off site for bikes bound for children in need over 7,000 miles away in the coastal city of Durban, South Africa.
Trailing Johannesburg and Cape Town, Durban is the most populated city in eastern South Africa. While it has the busiest port in that region, it also has a 44 percent poverty rate and donation of a bike can make a real difference in enabling citizens in Durban transportation for schooling, medical attention, and selling their wares.
Lexie Sealy, the executive VP of Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ DECA Chapter, said her school was eager to help collect 500 bikes for Durban when the Rotary Club of Fort Lauderdale and Cypress Creek contacted her about joining their movement.
Called Beyond a Bike, the rotary club has donated over 500 bicycles to people in African rural communities, and, in partnering with MSD this year, seeks to double their success rate.
“I donated my childhood pink and purple bike. It’s got tinsel and bells on it, but I can still see a child using it to go somewhere important in life,” said Sealy, who is in eleventh grade.
Considering that the average child in Durban walks for over two hours to reach school and that farmers must “push their chickens” to market on foot, Sealy’s bike will more than likely be met with appreciation.
Sealy and Mandi Jaffe, who is the president of Douglas’ DECA chapter, are leading Beyond a Bike, working with hundreds of other DECA members to collect bikes each Sunday, beginning on December 22 and ending in late January.
By February, all of the donated bikes at Pine Trails Park will be removed to a large storage facility arranged by the rotary club, and students will be given the opportunity to work on taking the bikes apart, repairing the broken ones, making each bike rideable or suitable for charity.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas DECA is one of the largest, oldest clubs at the high school and, as of last year counted as the third largest chapter in the world, preparing students in the fields of hospitality, marketing, and finance by finding projects to plan and execute from the ground up.
Sealy said that this year, her chapter is focusing on public relations and community service, so the Beyond a Bike initiative is the perfect chapter project to usher in the New Year.
To donate a used, new, broken, or mint condition child or adult bike, drop off days are on Sunday between 1 and 4 p.m. from December 22 to January 26. Pine Trails Park is located at 10555 Trails End in Parkland FL. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 954-821-3030.
- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.