RICHMOND — Abbey Paradis is raising money to buy bicycles for girls in Vietnam, thousands of miles away from her home in Richmond.
As part of her senior thesis project, Paradis, a senior who attends East Bay Met High School, has organized an artisans’ event which will take place at the Hope Valley Grange and Community Center.
“A requirement for the thesis project is to benefit a community in some way,” Paradis said. “It can just be another person, or local, or somewhere else.”
Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Rhode Island-based nonprofit Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund Bikes for Girls program, which donates bicycles and helmets to Vietnamese girls so they can more easily get to school.
Founded by Sara Stevens Nerone, who adopted two girls from Vietnam in the 1990s, the Rock-Paper-Scissors bicycle program identifies girls who are in danger of dropping out of school or are having difficulties getting to school, and purchases bicycles from local shops and helmets made in Vietnam. Each bike and its accessories — a helmet, bicycle pump and extra tire tubes — cost $60. All the bikes are bright pink, which makes them easy to identify and more difficult to steal.
Paradis learned about the Vietnamese girls’ situation while she was working on her research paper, another graduation requirement.
“Especially for girls in more rural communities, they have a long way to travel, so these bikes give them a lot of freedom to get to school,” she said. “Obviously it’s a safer way to travel than by foot, because of child trafficking, and also because there’s still a good amount of families that still expect the girls to do a lot of domestic responsibilities, so they need a faster way to get to and from school so they have more time at home, otherwise, some of them just have to drop out.”
For Paradis, who is herself an artist and will be attending the Savannah College of Art and Design in the fall, using art as a fundraising vehicle was a natural choice.
Participating artists keep all the proceeds they make at the event after paying a $30 table fee. The tables are already sold out.
“I have about 20 artisans so I’ve already raised $600 from that,” Paradis said. “Hop Arts have gotten involved with private artisans too. Everyone’s from the southern Rhode Island area, so everything’s local.”
The sale will take place on Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and admission is free.
More information is available on the event’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Bikes-for-Girls-Art-and-Craft-Fundraiser.