Cycling Without Age pilot training volunteers Isaac Gilbert (seated left) and Denise Bowering (right) with Janet Filipenko in the driver’s seat and instructor and Penticton CWA founder Neil Pritchard (left). (Mark Brett - Western News)

Video: Cycling for seniors joy in the South Okanagan

A new chapter of an organization bringing enjoyment to seniors in the outdoors is now in Penticton

For founder Ole Kassow of Cycling Without Age it’s all about “feeling the wind in your hair” — even if you don’t have any.

Cycling Without Age is a global initiative launched in 2012 by the Copenhagen, Denmark resident to help seniors at a local nursing home get outside and, more importantly, reconnect with society.

READ ALSO: Cycling association wants City of Penticton to invest in cycling amenities

“It’s an easy and simple solution to a big problem we have in our society today. There are so many people who are lonely, elderly people who are stuck indoors not able to go out and use their senses,” said Kassow, 52, who was in Penticton Sunday to help the local Cycling Without Age chapter as part of a North American tour. “It’s also about just connecting to the local community and just breaking free of that loneliness, so many people are socially isolated and this is just a great way of breaking that isolation.”

Now operating in over 40 countries worldwide, Cycling Without Age chapters use three-wheel, electric-assist trishaws capable of transporting two people in the front seats.

The Penticton chapter was formed late last year by Neil Pritchard and is sponsored in part by Cowork Penticton under the auspices of One Sky Community Resources.

Pritchard currently has one trishaw in place with another believed to be in transit and eventually his three-year plan is to have a fleet of four and as many as 20 volunteers.

According to Kassow, while it is mainly seniors in care homes who get the free rides, there are others who benefit as well.

“Even young people in this day and age, just the way we’ve organized our society there are so many people of all ages who are actually lonely and community is both a great way to increase quality of life and actually for people to live happier and longer lives as well,” he said.

Part of the program introduced on Sunday involved the training of the volunteer “pilots,” those who will be at the controls of the trishaws.

One of those people was Glen Sasyniuk.

“I got involved about two or three months ago when I heard about Cycling Without Age through One Sky — I‘ve been a volunteer for about a year and a bit with One Sky,” said Sasyniuk while waiting for his two final training rides. “Being a cyclist and volunteering with Alex Merckx’s ride in Penticton I thought this was a natural thing.”

According to Kassow, the organization’s mandate is simply: “We dream of creating a world together, in which the access to active citizenship creates happiness among our fellow elderly citizens by providing them with an opportunity to remain an active part of society and the local community.

“That way we build bridges between generations and we reinforce trust, respect.”


 

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Founder Ole Kassow (centre) of Cycling Without Age with Penticton trainees Isaac Gilbert and Janet Filipenko. (Mark Brett - Western News)

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