Young engineers’ bicycle project making a difference to Sudanese community

October 13 / 121

Spokes in the Wheel, a group of volunteers coordinated by the University of Melbourne’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter and Sudanese Australia Integrated Learning (SAIL), have been awarded a Diversity and Inclusion Award.

The University’s Diversity and Inclusion Awards recognise and reward a variety of programs and initiatives which demonstrate innovation and excellence in furthering diversity and social inclusion at the University of Melbourne.

Spokes in the Wheel volunteers are improving the lives of Sudanese refugee children by repairing and donating bikes, and then teaching them how to ride and handle their new bikes.

Coordinator Sue Ying Tan said the Sudanese community experiences several barriers in settling into the Australian environment, due to financial difficulties, and cultural and language differences.

“Various organisations that engage this community tend to focus on legal, health support, and social integration. However, there is a lack of access to these services due to transportation barriers. This barrier exists because of the cost of public transport, and general language and cultural considerations,” she said.

There are 20 to 30 EWB volunteers who attend the Spokes in the Wheel sessions for four weeks at a time at the four SAIL campuses around Victoria.

“The majority of the volunteers are recruited from the University chapter, with some from other university chapters as well as corporate engagement through various engineering firms,” Ms Tan said.

“The children that have participated in the program have gained valuable bicycle riding skills, bicycle safety knowledge, and basic bicycle maintenance skills. The program has also contributed towards a healthy lifestyle, incorporating regular exercise around their neigbourhood.

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