Enabling Seniors to “Feel the Wind in their Hair” – Meet Cycling Without Age (CWA)!

Cycling Without Age is a  volunteer organization that takes the elderly and less-abled citizens out for free bike rides in specialized bicycles called trishaws. This global program has grown rapidly throughout the world and is now represented in 37 countries with more than 1,100 chapter locations (58 in Canada), using over 1,500 trishaws with over 10,000 volunteers involved. Over 50,000 seniors have been on rides. The oldest registered volunteer pilot is 89 years of age and the oldest passenger 106 years! The Trishaws cycle 2.2 million km a year, equivalent to 53 times around the world.

The idea of Cycling Without Age is simple -the effects are profound. There is no fee to participants. It is all through volunteerism – through the simple act of generosity and kindness.

The elderly often experience a loss of mobility leading to social isolation, loneliness and depression. Cycling Without Age provides the elderly and less-abled with an opportunity to remain an active part of society and to experience life beyond the confines of their residence or nursing home. The program gives them the right to wind in their hair, the ability to connect with nature, and the chance to share their stories.

 

How does CWA work?

CWA is made possible with the help of local volunteers called ‘pilots’. Our pilots visit care and senior centres/facilities around the community, as well as community-dwelling seniors, and offer them an opportunity to be passengers on the Rickshaw – the opportunity to get out on their own and experience freedom and independence they otherwise would not be able to do. We break them free from social isolation. Make them smile. Bring back their memories. And let them be part of society again and thereby renew their appetite for life itself.

We believe life can and should be beautiful at any age – even at 100!

Cycling Without Age is not only about the elderly or less-abled. It is also about the volunteers – the pilots. It is about bringing the young and elderly together, in the great outdoors, experiencing the joy of travelling by bike and feeling free. It is probably less about volunteering in the traditional sense of the word – and more about active citizenship. Citizenship is driven by a desire to get involved and to make a real difference for someone. It’s about fostering relationships between people.

Cycling Without Age enriches the community as a whole. It promotes volunteerism, healthful opportunities, intergenerational relationships and promotes a ‘bike-friendly’ environment. It helps us as a community convey a clear and empowering message for the formation of a stronger and more cohesive culture. Nothing beats witnessing the joy of the elderly, their family, pilots and residential personnel interacting on and around the Trishaw and seeing the smiles of the passengers coming back from their first ride with wind in their hair, rosy cheeks and stories to share. It radiates throughout the community. Together we can make the world a more joyful, peaceful and united place.

Introducing the Toronto North CWA Chapter

We are excited to share with you the establishment of a Cycling Without Age Toronto North Chapter. This chapter is made possible by the combined vision of Our Greenway Conservancy and the Toronto Council on Aging, with the support of The Ministry of Seniors through the ‘Seniors Community Grant Program’.  The Toronto North CWA chapter brings the amazing experience offered by the CWA program to communities in the northwest area of Toronto.

Next Steps

The launching of the Toronto North CWA Chapter is an exciting and multistep endeavour. Establishing community connections, relationships, and setting up all that goes into an organized and energized program is essential. Cognizant of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, and the public health precautions in place to protect our seniors, our goal at this point is to simply establish connections and relationships within the community where the Toronto North Cycling Without Age chapter is being established. The vision is that by the time COVID restrictions are lifted, we are ready to safely get elderly and less abled citizens out for free bike rides.

On June 5, 2021 we were excited to run our test event that was a huge success. This took place at Downsview Park, in Toronto, Ontario. Stay tuned! We have interesting plans for 2022.

How Can I get Involved?

Everyone is welcome to join this amazing community program. There are several ways you can take part. You can participate as a volunteer pilot, a passenger or contribute through donations to ensure this community program is sustainable. For now, do keep a look out for our upcoming call for volunteer pilots and interested passengers. We will also let you know how one can
donate and how everyone can showcase this wonderful community program. We look forward to meeting each one of you in person. Until then, stay safe, and stay connected!

....Just a happy summer day with our Van Raam Chat at Downsview Park, Toronto.