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Head start to school year

Newcomer students at Hugh John Macdonald School got a head start on their school year with a generous donation from Emterra Environmental.

The company gave the students—who hail from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Thailand, Nepal, Yemen and Saudi Arabia—backpacks filled with supplies as part of the Tools for School initiative.

Emterra also donated $4,000 to The WRENCH (Winnipeg Repair Education and Cycling Hub) to provide its students with bike helmets.

The newcomer students will be building and earning their own bicycles through The WRENCH's Earn-A-Bike this school year. The program rescues discarded bikes that would otherwise be headed to landfills and works with students to refurbish them.

"Having a bike gives someone freedom, whether they want to just get out, go to the store or whatever they want to do," said Emterra Operations Manager John Sitarek, who added the company has partnered with The WRENCH many times over the years.

Geoff Heath, Mechanical Director at The WRENCH, said the organization has worked with Hugh John Macdonald to deliver programming through the school's own bike repair shop over the years.

"Our kids value the bikes that much more because it's something they've created with their own hands," he said. "When they've taken that bike out of the landfill, it may not have looked like much to start off with, but after those eight weeks, they're really proud of what they created. There's a great amount of empowerment having those skills."

Hazo Abdulkareem, who originally hails from Iraq, already had an opportunity to make a bike through the program last year.

"Back home, girls couldn't ride bikes…just boys," she said. "It's fun to have a bike to ride around or go shopping. Sometimes I ride it to school...this year the other kids will be able to do it too. "

Winnipeg Deputy Mayor Mike Pagtakhan was also on hand for the Sept. 13 presentation.

Hugh John Tools 001TW.jpg

 Hugh John Tools 002TW.jpg


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