Terry Stobbart had her mother drop off her daughter to her Kindergarten class one day.
The grandmother remarked to the little girl about all the different skin colours of her classmates. The little girl responded that she really hadn’t noticed.
And it was that answer which gives Stobbart hope for future generations.
“That gave me hope that you as a young generation don’t see that,” she told the students at Langley Secondary on Friday morning.
“You see into the heart of a person.”
Stobbart was one of the handful of speakers who had stopped by the high school as part of the Cycling4Diversity ride, an initiative which began in 2011. It celebrates World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
The ride began on May 21 in Victoria and ended in Abbotsford on May 24.
Altogether, the crew covered approximately 300 kilometres and visited 14 cities along the way, speaking to schools and community groups about diversity and inclusion.
The annual ride is organized by Ken Herar.
“The response has been fantastic,” he said.
“Children really like the concept and the approach to promoting cultural diversity.”
Stobbart, who is 80 per cent deaf in both ears, said that when she tells people about her hearing impairment, they immediately begin talking more slowly to her.
“So I learned not to share that, not to be open,” she said.
“For so many years, I felt afraid to say who I was.
“I am sure everyone of you have felt alone, or nervous, or shy. We all have our fears.”
The message Stobbard wanted to pass along to the students was “we are all humans, no matter what the skin colour or hair colour, or what we look like.”
“You have the power to do this, to change the world,” Stobbart added.
Stobbart was one of the handful of people on the ride who spoke at the assembly.
Others on the ride Friday morning included Herar, JoyTV10 and radio show host Harpreet Singh, university student Sukhmeet Singh Sachal, Abbotsford Police Department Deputy Chief Rick Lucy, CIVL radio station manager Aaron Levy and Times editor Frank Bucholtz.
City Councillor Dave Hall and Township Councillor Michelle Sparrow also spoke.
“You can’t assume racism and intolerance only happens in other parts of the world,” said Hall, who also rode along on the Langley leg of the trip.
“We have work to do yet and it is your generation that has the opportunity … to make a difference.”
— with files from Alex Butler/Black Press