Sophomore brings development project to campus: Bicycles Against Poverty joins Benef-Action, promotes resource accessibility

Posted by Mariel Kennedy

Waiting on the world to change? Don't write a song about it — be the change you're looking for. This is the ideology behind Skidmore's hottest new initiative, Bicycles Against Poverty.

Started by a student at Bucknell University last year, Bicycles Against Poverty (BAP) is a student led nonprofit organization whose vision is to eradicate poverty in all forms.

All projects are aimed at achieving this goal through sustainable developmental projects, according to the club's mission statement.

The project is slowly but steadily spreading to other colleges and universities across the east coast.

BAP is also in the process of teaming up with elementary schools in order to interest younger generations in world issues and community service.

The main goal of BAP is to use bicycles to encourage community cooperation, and to improve accessibility of important resources. It also seeks to serve as a tool for economic development for low income families.

To do so, bicycles are purchased and delivered to people in low-income areas around the world.

Though focused on Uganda, BAP plans to develop and branch out to other areas. Its official website proclaims, "Thus, wherever poverty is, BAP will be there too."

Every dollar raised goes directly to the purchasing and shipping of these bicycles. Areas aided are then monitored for progress.

The club also promotes other sustainable development projects that involve "understanding obstacles and finding creative solutions to overcome them."

BAP was recently brought to Skidmore by humanitarian and student James Lyness, '13.

"I've always been interested in giving up time. I value giving up time more than just giving money and material possessions," he said.

When his friend began BAP at Bucknell, Lyness quickly became involved. After seeing how BAP functioned and the interest it was generating, Lyness took the initiative to try and generate curiosity and awareness at Skidmore.

Lyness hopes students here find interest in what he is working towards and become involved.

BAP at Skidmore is currently collaborating with Benef-Action, the college's award-winning community service club.

Lyness, a member of Benef-Action, went to the club's board meeting to spread the message of BAP.

"If people like to volunteer, you will find them at these meetings," he said. "Almost everyone at meetings volunteer time and hopefully share some of the same values."

Lyness considered himself to be in the right place at the right time with his promotional efforts.

BAP was marketed in front of over 100 people that night, generating excitement and attention.

Though technically not yet a club, BAP has been making a name for itself around campus.

The first meeting was described as successful, bringing in approximately 50 concerned students..

When describing BAP, Lyness states that the club promotes economic responsibility and provides aid in a sustainable way. The club is currently focused on development and raising funds and awareness.

Although still in a preliminary stage, BAP has hit the ground running. The club-to-be has already co-sponsored a bike fix-up day with the Cycling Club.

A table was set up to sell goods, raise awareness for the club, display pictures and have students sign up.

The documentary "Uganda Rising" was also shown on Thursday, Sept. 29. The film focuses on the political issues and relief efforts in Uganda.

BAP also plans to set up a table in Case Center on parents' weekend.

In addition, BAP is co-sponsoring the environmental studies department's keynote speaker, Jeff Olson.

Olson will lecture on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. in Gannett Auditorium. The lecture will focus on the bicycle as a solution to important global issues, ranging from climate control to an alternative energy resource.

A BAP table will be set up to sell bags and T-shirts and to generate interest in the club.

Lyness says it is important to co-sponsor Olson as a means for students who attend and are inspired by these lectures to channel their passion.

"While the idea is still fresh in their minds, BAP will be right there for people to help out," he said.

"To those who are passionate about overlooked human rights violations and important world issues, BAP is a way to combat those issues in a sustainable way," Lyness said.

"People throw money at issues to solve problems, but when people take time to think of sustainable approaches, they have long lasting effects. BAP encompasses that. It's a great way to directly help people."

Bicycles Against Poverty meets on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. in the Spa.

Benef-Action meetings are held bi-weekly on Wednesdays at 8:45 p.m. in Ladd 106.

For more information on BAP visit http://www.bicyclesagainstpoverty.org/about.php

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