Some people wait a lifetime to realize that they have a voice. That they can be the one who dreams up a solution to the problem.
Randy King was only 16 when he recently figured that out, and we’re beyond impressed by the way he’s launched right into putting his voice to awesome use. To combat climate change, he’s creating a bike library program for his former middle school and his current high school (he transferred to the school so that he could shepherd the pilot program himself, close-up, every day). He wants students to have healthy exercise options, as well as a carbon-free mode of transport to get them to and from school. Once those two pilot programs have gone live and proven stable, he aims, by 2020, to expand the bike library system to all 100 or so Cleveland public schools.
Get by with a little help from your friends
The idea didn’t come to King in a vacuum. He attended the Sustainable Cleveland Summit as a student ambassador, met ioby’s Indigo Bishop and learned how ioby could support him, sat in for the launch of the University Hospital Bikes program, was asked to lead a breakout group discussion, and was exposed to all kinds of climate activism.
“Growing up,” he says, “I thought about what I could do to fight climate change, but I always thought, I’m younger, I have to wait a little bit longer. But the Sustainable Cleveland Summit really showed me that it doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, your gender, anything. If you want to make a change, and you want to make a difference in the whole world, there are people who can help you. It opened my eyes. I can do it. These people were giving me the opportunity to make a change.”
Bikes to combat climate change
What got King into riding? It wasn’t the passion for the wind in his hair that some people describe. You know those people who only feel free when they’re on a bicycle? King likes to cycle, but for him, it’s a means to an end. What he really wants more than anything is to stop climate change.
“Cars, buses, that type of thing, they’re not that safe for our atmosphere,” explains King. “Personally, I believe that for a long time, we were trying to discover new things. We were doing a lot of things to evolve, and make things a lot easier. But in doing that, we messed up. We’re messing up the world, instead of making it better. And what we need to do now is take a step back, and start trying to preserve the world itself. If we continue on the path we’re going down, things aren’t going to be that good.”
[Photo via Cleveland Metro Schools]
Progress so far
No big deal, but King’s kind of a youth bike celeb right now. He spends two hours a day, on top of his homework, mapping out the future of the Library, fielding requests from organizations that want to partner, and responding to press requests. He’s applied for and won a $5,000 grant from the Cleveland Climate Action Fund. He’s got the support of the CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, of board members, and of local bike advocacy groups.
In other words, things are coming together. “A lot of people are passionate about this,” says King, “and some people didn’t know how to get started, and I took the initiative to make this change, and I’m letting everybody else get on board.”
Just shows what can happen when you dare to speak up and share your good ideas, doesn’t it?
What you can do
- Keep an eye on King. Seriously. We cannot wait to see where this young man goes. Checking out the Library’s Facebook page now and then is one way to do this.
- Donate to the Cleveland Bike Library. Only a few days days left til the end of King’s ioby campaign.
- Take a spin around your neighborhood, by bike. Breathe in some fresh air. Think of the work that this awesome 16-year-old is doing in his neighborhood. Look around at the places that are so familiar to you. Ask yourself this: what’s my great idea?
Feeling inspired? Want to take action in YOUR neighborhood? If you have awesome ideas about how to make your town greener, safer, and more fun, let us help! Tell us your awesome idea right here. We’d love to help you get started today.
Pssst…. In OTHER ioby news: Have a great idea, but feel like you need a blueprint to get you started? Or a recipe to follow? NO PROBLEMO! We’ve got you covered. Check out some of our very best recipes for change, here.