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The easiest way to cover 10KM in the rain – UNMIK-supported project reaches young people to promote the environment, health and multi-ethnic friendship

10 kilometres is a long distance to travel – and can feel twice as long while doing it in the rain.

However heavy rain didn’t dampen the fun of youngsters from Pristina and Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje on a bike ride in the rain through Gërmia Park this month, with Kosovo’s top mountaineer and environmentalist Uta Ibrahimi.

“We want all these young people to be leaders of their own communities, or their schools or the places where they live, so when they get back home they can try to transmit the messages they took from our activities,” Ibrahimi said.

The first Kosovar to climb Mt Everest, who has now climbed five peaks over 8000 metres, led young people from the Kosovo-Roma and Kosovo-Albanian communities on a ride through nature – while stopping to discuss the importance of environmental practices and ways to live closer with nature.

Kader, from Fushe Kosovo, said despite the rain the group were able to learn a lot about the environment and healthy living.

“It was super, we had a really good time. We learned how to save the environment [among other things].”

The activity is the first in a six-month “Way To Go” project, supported by UNMIK, that will travel around Kosovo reaching young people and getting them active in a range of activities with an environmental focus – while bringing youth from different ethnic communities together at the same time.

 19-year-old Edmond has been biking for years, and says the benefits of cycling are many: saving money, saving the environment and improving fitness and health – while also escaping Pristina’s traffic. However, the environment is a top concern.

“The environment is really important because in the upcoming years, according to different studies, if we don’t start considering it more and we don’t act now, we’re going to have a lot of problems. Instead of using cars, we use bicycles, and it’s better for our health as well.”

Ibrahimi’s Utalaya foundation will continue to work to inspire young people to get active, get together, and get environmental in more municipalities around Kosovo, including Mitrovica North, Peja/Peć, Brezovicë/Brezovica and Kamenicë/Kamenica, in the upcoming months. 

Here are some biking facts:

• On a bicycle you can travel up to 1037 kilometres on the energy equivalent of a single litre of gas.

• Cycling three hours or 30 kilometres per week halves your risk of heart disease and strokes

• Bicycles use 2% as much energy as cars per passenger-kilometer, and cost less than 3% as much to purchase.