Over the last five years, our United Against Bullying program has grown from a small local campaign to a national anti-bullying program to help create safer and respectful environments for children and adults. As we continue growing the movement, we are meeting a lot of wonderful organizations who are doing inspiring work in their communities promoting kindness and empowering kids. One such organization is the Cycling4Diversity (C4D) Foundation, located in Abbotsford, British Columbia. In May, Seon and United Against Bullying are partnering with C4D to support their Annual Ride to help celebrate cultural diversity and foster respectful communities.
Ken Herar (left) and Tony McAleer.
Ken Herar, founder of Cycling4Diversity, columnist, and public speaker, says that the foundation started from a small ride in 2011, on May 21st, to celebrate World Day for ‘Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development’ proclaimed by the United Nations.
Herar explains, “We are lucky to live in a multicultural society that looks at diversity as a value, and it’s shocking to me when I hear about some incidents of racism in our community. I’m shocked that it still exists. Back in 2011, we decided to organize a one-time bike ride in the Lower Mainland promoting diversity, kindness, and the importance of eliminating racism. The riders stopped at local schools to talk about respect and cultural differences with kids. What we didn’t expect was all of the positive responses our event received. People were so inspired by what we did, and the message itself, that they started inviting us to speak at their schools or colleges and asking about the next rides. So, here we are, planning the sixth ride this year. What was meant to be a one-time event turned into a foundation with big support from the public.”
Today, the C4D Foundation has an inspiring mission: “Building bridges of dialogue, one city at a time.”
“People talk about diversity and acceptance all the time. We are not quite there yet. Segregation still exists. We noticed that kids from one culture sometimes don’t play with kids from a different culture. And we don’t want this to happen in our community.”
On May 25-26th, six riders from the C4D foundation will cycle from Burnaby to Mission, BC, and will stop at 6-8 schools on the way to talk with students about the importance of mutual respect and cultural diversity. The Ride will finish at the Mission Leisure Centre on May 26th with a big celebration of diversity.
“In our previous rides, we used to visit 20 to 30 schools which was both intense for the riders and hard to plan for organizers. This year, we decided to focus on the messaging and presentations themselves, trying to make them more impactful while limiting the number of schools to 6 to 8 total.”
Mike Bismeyer, Seon’s Sales Manager, Transit Division, will be one of the riders and speakers for the foundation. As an active anti-bullying advocate and a United Against Bullying spokesperson, Bismeyer will also be doing a presentation to students and hosting the final event in Mission.
“Mike has been a friend of mine since elementary school,” shares Ken Herar. “He has always been a big supporter of our foundation right from the start and we are honored to have him participating and presenting this year.”
One of the guest speakers at the C4D event is Tony McAleer, a former white supremacist, who will talk about discrimination in the community and how he parted ways with his racist views. Also, among the presenters are Kal Dosanjh, Vancouver Police officer and CEO of Kidsplay, and Kristine Heinrichs, who recently threw colored rice bags in a driveway to counteract the KKK tactic and embrace diversity in Abbotsford.
“Over the last six years organizing the Cycling4Diversity Ride, my experience communicating with people has been amazing,” says Herar. “We shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if we need it. People want to help and they are helping each other. And if you stay positive and bring a positive message, this positivity will come back to you in this or another way. Words can’t describe how happy we are when people from the community come up and say that our presentation at a certain school made a lasting impact on their kids or made a difference in their lives.”
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