May 16, 2012
Among the beautiful cherry blossoms filling the Ishinomaki Senshu University campus, you could hear the chatter of happy children from a parking lot. On April 30, about 40 local primary school kids gathered there for a cycling school ‘Wielerschool,’ which is held in over 30 locations every year throughout Japan.
The school is hosted by the ‘Chainring Project for Kids’ which was established by volunteer cyclists after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Katayama Ukyo, former F1 racer and currently a road racer, is also a supporting member.
In response to a request for kids in Ishinomaki to learn proper use of bicycles and enjoy cycling, Peace Boat’s Yamamoto Takashi – himself a tour cycling enthusiast – w0rked together with the school to make this event happen.
Various bicycles were displayed and tested by the kids on the day, from professional bicycles for roadracing to mountain bikes to running bikes without pedals. Other attractions such as balance beams, bumps and slalom courses were also put in place as challenges.
The instructors of the day were from Japan’s top roadrace cycling teams including Utsunomiya Blitzen, Shimano Racing, Team Ukyo, and Narushima Friend.
The kids not only enjoyed cycling, but also learned how to ride safely through lessons and quizzes, and competed in bicycle sumo wrestling and slow ride races (cycle without touching feet to the ground, where the slowest wins). There was an amazing variety of activities that kids could enjoy with bicycles.
The participating children passionately enjoyed bicycles through the three hours from the event’s beginning to end. One of the parents shared their appreciation, saying that “kids have lost playgrounds, as large spaces in the city are now being used for temporary housing. So it was delightful to see kids challenge riding bicycles, laugh and smile all day on the safe university campus.”
Fukushima Katsushige, comedian and longtime supporter of Peace Boat and chief editor of Ishinomaki Tsushin (newsletter), took this opportunity to donate 14 bicycles for the children of Ishinomaki to continue cycling, using the charity fund he established.
Thank you to all the kids, parents, and members of Chainring Project for Kids!
A review of the event can be also read here: