A NORWEGIAN cycling initiative that reconnects the elderly with young people and the great outdoors has been launched in Perth.
“Cycling Without Age” encourages younger generations to take old timers out for a scenic ride in special trishaw bikes.
Dorthe Pedersen founded the program after seeing a man in Copenhagen offer his nursing home neighbours a ride on a rickshaw.
It made her think about her own elderly neighbours and how they were “seeing the same four walls” too often.
After witnessing this “act of kindness”, the former health and aged care worker thought it would be a great idea to roll the program out in communities across Norway.
“I thought it would be a great way for individuals to influence daily life within a Nordic welfare system,” Ms Pedersen says.
Since founding the program six years ago and introducing it to over 40 countries and 50,000 people worldwide, she has seen some remarkable results for the passengers and the cyclists.
She has seen elderly people reduce their reliance on sleep medication and receive a significant boost in their moods and energy levels.
The founder has also seen families reconnect and mental health improvements for the cyclists who ride passengers around.
Ms Pedersen fondly recalls an early participant who began walking again after spending roughly nine years bed-ridden, and vividly recalls how the program helped improve the lives of an Alzheimer’s patient and her daughter.
Ms Pedersen also loves how the program unites different community members and generations.
“We’ve even had police officers come in to pedal these trishaws for the community,” she said.
Ms Pedersen is on a whirlwind tour of Australia and Perth, opening up chapters in most states and territories and numerous parts of Perth.
Check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/cyclingwithoutagewa to find out more.
by WADE ZAGLAS