Organisations for a better world
Just had an interesting weekend supporting two programmes you could say I am a tad passionate about. The first, on Friday evening, was a four-hour spin bike event Tour de Montreal. The moniker is from its location at Ideal Electric at 118 Montreal Street, Christchurch. Of course a spin bike does not go anywhere albeit it records an equivalent distance pedalled.
An annual event co-inciding with tour de France, it is run as a fundraiser for Special Olympics, New Zealand. It is part of an international organisation founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver to provide opportunities for sports people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics boasts 5.7 million athletes in 172 countries. 7000 athletes in New Zealand participate in 200 events in 40 locations.
international event is held at regular intervals.
At Tour de Montreal, we pay $100 for a team assigned to one spin bike. Five to a team is a good number. The event is largely organised by an Ideal Electric business manager, Mike Lowden, himself a keen cyclist and runner.
Mike insists it is a fun event able to provide energetic cheer in the depths of a dreary Christchurch winter. He has the premises suitably decked out in bicycle memorabilia. A silent auction and raffles add to the fundraising.
My five, Team Golden Aged, scored about 100 km.
Special Olympic athletes usually participate, frequently proudly showing off medals they have won.
In addition to sport, Special Olympics provides camaraderie and friendship. The goals include winning in sport and life.
This was the third year when I have participated. My first Tour de Montreal rewarded me with a prize for the most ks pedalled. I suspect they generously added in my thousands of ks cycle touring in several countries. 2017 Tour de Montreal earned $9000 for Special Olympics.
Then the following afternoon I cycled to the George Hotel in Park Terrace to join the farewell for 16 South Island young people selected for the 2017 JET (Japan Education Teaching) programme. JET was founded in 1978 by the Japanese Government to encourage cultural exchange and attract educated English speakers to work in sport and education.
I cannot help but think how attitudes towards Japan have changed since I grew up in post WW2 New Zealand. Japan was considered an undesirable country. I recall trips to Port Lyttelton and seeing train loads of scrap metal. At the dock was a ship with a strange name ending in ``Maru’’ My thinking was, our junk is good enough for Japan. Little did I know our junk was helping to create one of the most advanced twentieth-century countries with, enviably one of the world’s finest railway systems. I was born too soon to apply as a JET candidate but I have ridden my bicycle the length of Japan and founded a peace movement, The New Zealand World Peace Bell Association with its HQ in Tokyo. So you could agree I have done my ``Japan’’ thing. But that does not stop me feeling a tad envious as I wave farewell to departing JET participant.
JET people are great to chat with. What a wonderful opportunity for young New Zealanders.
The event was provided by the local Japanese consulate. Consul Mitsuru Murase spoke as did JET programme intervener Rex Johnstone.
Johnstone stressed participants not to be quick to form opinions about Japan. They should appreciate the differences between multi-cultural New Zealand and a mono-cultural Japan.