WIZO Nahalal Youth Village is participating in a unique educational cycling program operated by Bartali –Youth in Movement, an NGO named in commemoration of “The Righteous Among Nations” Gino Bartali, the Italian cycling legend and only athlete to win the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, before and after WWII. During the war, Bartali risked his life smuggling fake documents inside his bicycle tubes and distributing them to Jewish refugees to enable them to escape Italy from the Nazis.
The Bartali program uses cycling as a way to bridge cultural divides and celebrate diversity, empowering at-risk youth by developing their resilience and teaching them valuable life skills such as self-discipline, teamwork, and leadership. Participants train for a series of annual peak events, in which they meet their peers from other cycling centers.
At WIZO Nahalal the program has been a resounding success. At present, there are two groups, for beginners and advanced riders. The bicycles were donated by the Bartali Foundation and the cycling activities take place on and around the Nahalal campus, which is a perfect setting. The cyclist “hub” which houses the bikes, lockers, maintenance and repair area and coffee corner is located in one of the rooms in a historic building from 1924 near the center of the youth village – see the video attached to this post.
Nahalal director Galia Aleph would like to see the program grow to include six groups, which would enable around 33% of the dormitory youth to take part. The mix of dormitory and external students has great potential to create connections between youth from all walks of Israeli society and promote social equality on campus.
While the program seeks to improve the students’ biking skills, it is also focused on developing their sense of social responsibility and doing good in the world. For as Bartali once said, “Good is something you do, not something you talk about – some medals are hung on the soul, not on the jacket”.