A volunteer-run charity breaking the barriers of isolation is celebrating one year with hopes to grow its invaluable community service into the future.
Cycling Without Age Sunshine Coast began on February 14, 2020 but community captain Tim Rogers says the organisation has been properly running for only six months.
“We started in February last year and COVID shut us down within three weeks; we couldn’t even do training,” Mr Rogers says.
“We didn’t start running again until very late July. We’ve really been building great momentum since August.”
Cycling Without Age originated in Denmark in 2012 and is now in more than 50 countries with more than 2200 community, or chapter, locations including the Sunshine Coast.
Mr Rogers says volunteer pilots, or chauffeurs, offer rides on trishaw bikes for a variety of people with reduced mobility, with community and connection at the forefront of what they do.
“Cycling Without Age on one level is as simple as taking people who have reduced mobility and taking them for rides out on our trishaws.”
The service assists the elderly, those with a disability or people with a medical condition and Mr Rogers says the trishaws spark conversation, breaking the invisibility felt by some members of the community.
“The trishaw has a real presence about it; it looks like fun, it looks interesting and people come up and chat to you.
“Our passengers can make connections to people. People come up and talk to them in a way in which they won’t if they were sitting on a park bench.
“We get the most lovely comments from our passengers. For some it’s the first time they have been out in some time or the best day they have had in four years.
“It has great benefits in terms of mental health and wellbeing.”
Currently Cycling Without Age visits various aged-care facilities, disability services and special schools in the Caloundra region but Mr Rogers is
hoping more people who live at home can benefit from using the service.
“We know there are plenty of people who just live at home and are with a loved one who is their carer, and we want to make sure they can access our services too,” he says.
“It’s about keeping people connected to places they can’t get to themselves and carers can join as passengers or enjoy some time off knowing their loved one is being looked after.”
The organisation currently has four trishaws, two purchased with a Sunshine Coast Council grant and two recently added thanks to the generosity of the community, and two of Australia’s biggest stars.
Mr Rogers says the charity held a crowdfunding campaign last year to purchase a wheelchair-friendly trishaw, expanding its ability to cater for a wider range of passengers.
The charity also holds a claim to fame after Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman donated a third trishaw to the collection.
“The connection there is that Keith’s mum is one of our volunteers.”
Cycling Without Age is now hoping to raise enough money to purchase a trailer large enough to transport the trishaws and ultimately expand its service area.
Mr Rogers says a community event happens every Wednesday from 2pm at Happy Valley for locals with reduced mobility to experience a trishaw ride.
To donate, visit chuffed.org and search ‘Cycling Without Age Sunshine Coast’. For more information call 0484 248 832.