This October, Immanuel Christian School (ICS) in Aylmer and Grace Community Church came together to organize the first ever Care2Cycle event. High winds and chilly temperatures didn’t stop children, teens, parents and grandparents from riding their bikes through the neighbourhood in an effort to raise money for three worthy causes: Compassion Canada, the ICS tuition assistance fund, and a Syrian refugee family sponsored through Grace Community Church.
Cyclists travelled a 10-kilometre route to the Springwater Conservation Area, while others tackled the “30 km Leg Stretcher”. Some of the more seasoned bikers rode a 50 km route that took them to Port Bruce and Pleasant Valley.
Keith Cameron, Principal at ICS, was happy that Care2Cycle generated over $2,200 for the school’s Compassion Canada sponsor child (additional funds went to the ICS tuition assistance fund) and that over $4,200 was raised for the Syrian refugee family sponsored through Grace Community Church.
But he measures the event’s success in other ways, too. In fact, one of the biggest advantages that came out of Care2Cyle was what Cameron describes as, “a unique sharing of gifts” between a church and a school, between senior and junior classes, and between students and their community.
“It was really neat,” remarked Cameron. “As a local Christian community building event the combined efforts of joining the two organizations (the school and the church) meant we had folks in the school who have never been here before.”
The arrangement yielded some practical benefits, too. Along with attending meetings at the school, members of the Grace Community congregation could take care of things like meal planning, while ICS covered certain administrative aspects.
Cameron said he that was also grateful to work alongside a church that doesn’t traditionally have a strong tie to Christian education.
“The more they talked to us, the more they were excited about Christian education,” he explained. “They were discovering what we’re all about.”
The relationship between ICS and Grace Community Church has developed gradually, with three new families joining the school over the last decade. Growing interest from the congregation over the years has affirmed to Cameron that it can take time for different pockets of the Aylmer community to really “get” the impact and value of Christian education. But it’s worth the wait—and worth taking the time to invest in new relationships.
Care2Cycle allowed for relationship building within the ICS student body as well. Many grade 7/8 students went out of their way to ensure that kids of all ages would feel included in the day’s festivities—by planning and overseeing a rodeo event for children before encouraging them to take part in a 10 km bike route.
“They had something right away that was absolutely kid-focused,” said Cameron. “They did a little bike safety stuff, some navigating, some distance runs, and a road safety course.”
That portion of Care2Cycle was key, he said, because “it was run by the students for the students”.
“The best part was working with the younger students. I really enjoyed that,” said Kayla Klassen, a grade 7 student who helped lead lessons in bike safety.
Staff at ICS are intentional about putting older students in leadership positions, often through senior student service teams. “We really work toward our senior student service teams for a whole bunch of different things, whether that be reading buddies, helping out with breakfast program, helping out with chapel, or being part of the worship team,” said Cameron.
“As soon as we involve the students, it’s more energetic and lively, and they’re taking ownership of these various events. We’ve seen that transformation with some of the routine things that need to happen around the school—the whole student service team aspect means that school isn’t done to them, they are part of school in a very positive way.”
When that energy and sense of ownership spills out into the community—as was the case in a fundraiser like Care2Cycle—the results are lively, engaging and certainly worth celebrating.