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New cycling initiative helps alleviate loneliness among seniors

CYCLING WITHOUT AGE
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The Danish trishaw is offering seniors a chance to get out and about.

For lots of people, growing older can be a challenging experience. As the body begins to slow down so do the activities seniors can engage in, often leading to isolation and loneliness. Now, thanks to an initiative from Cycling Without Age, seniors in Minneapolis and St. Paul are able to hitch a ride on a Danish trishaw to get out and about.

The idea was recently tried out by Sister Rosalind Gefre, 89, who donned her habit and a pullover to go for an hour-long trip along the Mississippi River with her friend Sister Susan Smith, 86. Sitting comfortably in the trishaw’s wide seat, the laughing nuns were pedaled along by 65-year-old Anthony Desnick from St. Paul. Thanks to Desnick’s efforts, the religious got to reminisce about their former days in a convent, and take in the glorious views along the the way.

With the wind in their faces, the two octogenarians experienced the thrill of being outdoors and to feel part of a community. With other seniors taking advantage of the initiative, the program organizers hope to bring the service to other senior homes.

While it’s wonderful that seniors are getting out from the confines of their homes, the program is also being praised for creating a link between the generations: between the person who pedals the passengers and the passengers themselves. As Sister Gefre explains to Kelly Smith for Star Tribune, “Your whole attitude changes. You see the world.”

Thanks to funding from non-profit organizations, senior homes throughout the state are trying out the trishaws within their homes for seniors. In the Twin Cities, Desnick, along with nine volunteers who range from graduate students to other retirees, are taking the trishaws from one senior home to the next to give as many residents as possible the opportunity to have the thrill of a bike ride.

The $12,000 needed to fund the trishaw was raised by AARP Minnesota but Desnick is hoping to increase the number of bikes to 10, with an impressive number of 300 volunteers, to service the 30 homes in the chapter.

Cycling Without Age initially started in 2012 in Denmark and has now been rolled out in 40 other countries. While it’s wonderful to see the elderly being given the opportunity to be part of their community, it’s also inspiring to see so many volunteers willing to give up their free time to look after the more vulnerable — and we’re also mightily impressed with their obvious pedal power!

You can read the full article in the Star Tribune here.

 

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