CYCLING WITHOUT AGE VISITS SEA CLIFF; RICKSHAW PROGRAM LIBERATES AND CONNECTS
September 4, 2015 -- The founders of the Danish not for profit organization Cycling Without Age paid a visit to Sea Cliff last last Friday morning, and with a bicycle rickshaw that was made available to resident “pilots” and passengers for test runs, discussed the benefits of bringing the program to this community.
The brainchild of Ole Kassow, the rickhaw service enables volunteer “pilots” to give rides to senior citizen passengers who are often limited in their ability to get out and about. The experience is liberating for the seniors both physically and emotionally, and equally satisfying for volunteers who not only derive satisfaction from helping others, but also in making connections with the past and developing friendships. With 300 rickshaws in Denmark and Norway, piloted by more than 2000 volunteers, the program has expanded into more than twenty countries and scores of towns and cities around the world.
A few dozen residents, some curious onlookers and others who had heard about the visit in advance, as well as visitors from Port Washington, Port Jefferson, and even as far as Washington D.C. interested in bringing the program to their hometowns, stopped by the tent pitched at Lincoln Plaza at the corner of Sea Cliff and Roslyn Avenues to meet Mr. Kassow and Dorothe Pederson who started the group in 2012. The two were invited to Sea Cliff by resident Kelly Talcott who has worked with Cycling Without Age after having met Mr. Kassow through a mutual friend in Copenhagen.
Mr. Talcott and Mr. Kassow said the rickshaw experience bridges the gap between generations. There is something about the ride that stimulates discussions between pilot and passenger, they explained. It could be wheeling by the house of a childhood friend or the experience of enjoying the lovely outdoors with wind whipping through one's hair that sparks memories, feelings and thoughts that give rise to conversations.
“It is as satisfying for the pilots as it is for the seniors. Often a ride stimulates stories of the past,” explained Mr. Kassow. “It’s a way of connecting to the past while giving seniors the opportunity to connect to the community.” In a TEDx talk posted on YouTube, he says, “you can help create better lives. It’s all about creating better relationships.”
Mayor Bruce Kennedy, who took a few turns piloting the rickshaw, one with Mutual Concerns president Peggy Como as passenger, concurred, saying that it was a way of creating “intergenerational communication.”
“It’s a way of connecting and creates a dialogue,” he explained. “Just driving Peggy (same generation) around the block stimulated a conversation that we probably wouldn’t have had.”
Often the program is run through assisted living facilities or nursing homes, explained Mr. Kasso, with those facilities purchasing and garaging the rickshaws, which are equipped with a booster motor for those tough Sea Cliff slopes.
In Sea Cliff, with no such facilities, Mr. Kennedy said that, if there’s interest, he envisioned the program running through Senior Outreach or local groups such as Mutual Concerns or the Senior Action Committee, with the rickshaws, being stored in the garages of volunteers.
Click here for a link to the Cycling Without Age Website.
Click her for a link to Ole Kassow's TEDx Talk
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