Cycling Without Age benefits all involved
Program expanding to locations around the world
There is growing interest in a new program for seniors called Cycling Without Age.
Volunteer Holly McKay told Shift New Brunswick host Vanessa Vander Valk it gives seniors who can't ride solo anymore the opportunity to ride a bike in a different way.
"What that is is a trishaw, a three-wheeled vehicle something like a rickshaw only the passengers, they sit in the front," said McKay.
New Brunswick was first province in Canada to have the program after it was introduced at Loch Lomond Villa in Saint John in the fall of 2015.
Once you start talking to them they talk about the history of the area, they talk about their family and we share stories about my kids, their kids."- Holly McKay
Volunteers like McKay invite elderly people to go out for a spin.
"Typically, they haven't been out cycling or doing anything for some time. So, it gives them a chance, an opportunity to go outside, get the wind in their hair and just feel the sun on their face."
McKay says it lets seniors interact more with the community.
Being in a trishaw lets seniors see the world around them from a different perspective.
"You're out there. You're experiencing the sights, the smells, the sounds, just everything incorporated together."
She says some of the seniors who have lived and travelled in the area for years see things from the seat of the trishaw that they've never noticed before.
"It's a really unique experience and by the time they go back [to the nursing home] they're enthusiastic, they're excited, they're talking about everything again, their memories are stirred up."
McKay recently took part in a conference on Cycling Without Age in Denmark. She says there were people from all around the world who believe in what the program is doing for seniors.
"We love what we do and we're like-minded. We've seen the results, we see what happens to people when they get in the trishaw and we pedal them down the street and start exploring."
McKay says the program is mutually beneficial for both the seniors and volunteers.
"I've learned more as a woman and as a mother and just as part of this community. Once you start talking to them they talk about the history of the area, they talk about their family and we share stories about my kids, their kids."
McKay says the seniors have so much to share.
There are plans to begin fundraising to purchase more trishaws for the nursing home. "The more the better. If we can all go out in groups that makes it even more special."
McKay says they also heard about having infrastructure in place such as bike lanes and how to safely navigate near traffic.
"It's been really wonderful trying to find new places to take them," said McKay, but she noted their adventures are somewhat limited because of a lack of safe areas to travel on the trishaw.
With files from Shift New Brunswick