In this blog, I want to highlight what I think is a great tool that has been used to promote the integration of immigrants. The idea for this method was born in 2013, when the Cyclists’ Association organized basic cycling training for immigrants. Due to the high demand for such courses, the Maahanmuuttajat pyörille -project was launched. The aim of the project is to introduce cycling skills into the integration process. The idea is to train coaches who act as cycling instructors for immigrants. This will also create contacts between immigrants and native Finns and involve new Finns in cycling organizations.
Maahanmuuttajat pyörille – project courses are funded by STEA. The beginner’s course consists of two 90-minute instructional cycles that literally teach cycling hands-on. Almost all course graduates are women, although participation is not restricted on the basis of sex. The reason is probably that in the countries of origin of immigrants, cycling is more permissible for men. There are also maintenance courses. The course introduces you to bike operations and basic maintenance. Coach Training is meant for people who can cycle and want to become teachers in elementary courses. (Rinta-Jouppi, 2019; Pyöräliitto, 2019.)
In October 2019, I personally attended this training course in Helsinki. The course lasted one day. We went through theory and then went on to practice coaching cycling. The theoretical part was held in the premises of the Monika Women Association and then we practiced coaching cycling in Suvilahti. I really liked the atmosphere in that course, it was relaxed and I learned a lot. Although it was short and contained a lot of things. I really recommend these courses and hopefully in spring when there will be more biking groups, I can put into practice what I learned. Cycling courses are announced in the Coaches Facebook Group, which makes it easy to let the head coach know if you are able to attend cycling course as a coach.
Integration into society through cycling has also been used in other countries. For example, according to an article in The Guardian, in New Zealand charity gives bikes to refugees and teaches them to ride. According to the article, New Zealand accepts 1,000 refugees a year under its quota system. Many of them struggle to access affordable and reliable transport options. A driver’s licence and a car can sometimes take years to acquire. Learning to ride a bike, you are not so dependent on others. Cycling is often an empowering skill and gives you a sense of freedom. (The Guardian, 2019.)
Personally I love biking. It really gives a sence of freedom. It is a good way to exercise and makes it easy to get from one place to another. It is also something the whole family can do together. So cycling is definitely an important thing to use promoting immigration. Cycling has many good effects; it can reduce depression and also help with studying and employment.
Ainge Roy, Eleanor. 2019. ‘It gave me hope’: New Zealand charity gives refugees bikes and teaches them to ride. The Guardian. 1 Sep 2019. Accessed 26.11.2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/01/it-gave-me-hope-new-zealand-charity-gives-refugees-bikes-and-teaches-them-to-ride?fbclid=IwAR3WU6pAOzaL5rxJ-K94OQA3vBKWc6x8dmT4zl8Xwu8stwqpe8feOL44Ugo
Kulttuuri Tampere. 2018. Pyöräilyn peruskurssi maahanmuuttajanaisille. Youtube-video. 12.6.2018. Accessed 26.11.2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge4-J6oxuw4&t=35s
Pyöräliitto ry. 2019. Accessed 26.11.2019. https://pyoraliitto.fi/toiminta/maahanmuuttajat-pyorille
Rinta-Jouppi, Anton. 2019. Marokkolaisnaisen haave pyöräilystä toteutui Suomessa – taidon oppiminen kotouttaa ja voi auttaa maahanmuuttajaa työllistymään. YLE Uutiset. 7.9.2019. Accessed 26.11.2019. https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10954622