Working in the nonprofit field has always been an interest of mine and working for Future Leaders in Action and Variety – the Children’s Charity is allowing me to further explore what comprises a successful non-profit. At Variety, my specific project is to help reconstruct the Mobility Program in order to make the process easier to use and more effective.
The Mobility Program currently consists of two parts: traditional and specialized. Variety gives away traditional bikes, helmets, and locks to kids, predominantly from lower income families. Often, Variety reaches out to organizations and schools with a large number of kids who are in need of a bike. Each child and their guardian fill out an application for a bike, which is then reviewed. Variety funds and builds the bikes, with the help of volunteers. Specialized bikes are given to a child with special needs that prevents them from utilizing a traditional bike. Specialized bikes cost thousands of dollars and each bike is custom ordered to fit the child’s needs to make sure they can ride the bike safely.
My plan to improve the Mobility Program starts with finding out what the difficulties are with the current system. A lot of the work comes from experiencing the processes as they come up throughout the fellowship. This does make it difficult because I might not see that part of the process again and see how the new changes will work out. Some of the things I hope to do is review past and present applicants and their families to ask about their experience, plan and coordinate events myself to understand the difficulty and problems that arise, and reaching out to organizations that offer the same program.
Reviewing applications allows me to understand what the application process is like on both ends - for the applicant and us at Variety. It helps me identify problems from the beginning that may later affect the process. I also get to know the community of people and better understand how I can help them and future families.
I love coordinating and planning events and with my past experience of it in high school and college, I have ideas of what works and issues that come up with events and I can apply that knowledge while working at Variety. I’ve been contacting organizations to learn what works for them, compare it to what works for us, pick out the successes and apply it to Variety’s program. This builds up my skill of talking to professionals that I don’t know and how to approach them with my questions and ideas.
By providing a child a bike, it allows them to have independence because of the ability to move around on their own. They learn to take care of a special object that needs to be kept safe. It also teaches the importance of healthy living and that it’s possible to have fun while still exercising. Children with special needs especially cannot exercise their muscles as much, but by having a special bike designed for them, they can continue to grow their muscles too. Giving away traditional and specialized bikes allows more kids to have the same opportunities as each other - to enjoy riding a bike.