A new organization designed to get seniors out the door and exploring the world again is celebrating its inception this Saturday.
Chilliwack’s new volunteer-run organization, Cycling Without Age (CWA), is part of a phenomenon that has been spreading across the world. They team up volunteers with elders, who head out on what’s called a trishaw — a tricycle that resembles a rickshaw, and can carry two passengers.
The local Yarrow/Chilliwack Chapter began fundraising in early 2018, and received a grant from the City of Chilliwack. That’s allowed them to purchase their first trishaw, which they will unveil at an official launch on Saturday, April 27 in the courtyard of the Yarrow Community School, 4595 Wilson Rd.
Gearing Up CWA Yarrow/Chilliwack will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and include a pancake breakfast, mini-tours with the elegant trishaw, information about how to volunteer, how to be trained as a “pilot” and how to connect isolated seniors and other folks with mobility challenges to this new initiative.
There will also be information on how to donate so the chapter can reach its goal of procuring a second trishaw in the near future. Everyone is encouraged to ride their own bike to the event, and also, to bring along their favourite senior.
“We are thrilled to be launching this great community-building program,” says the chapter’s advisory group member David Burdge. “There are so many elders burdened with social isolation and this is such a simple and beautiful way to connect them back to their communities and to fresh air and to create relationships between generations. Once we’re up and riding, we hope to expand, with two or three more trishaws located around Chilliwack. It’s contagious.”
The initiative received early support from then-Councillor Ken Popove.
“Too many seniors no longer have the physical capability to get out on their own,” he said in August 2018. “(And) we need to get our seniors out in the fresh air (because) it helps fight against loneliness and social isolation.”
With that in mind, when the Yarrow Community School Society approached the City of Chilliwack for a one-time contribution of $9,925, about 80 per cent of the cost of one trishaw, Popove put forth a motion to instead pay just over half of the program’s $29,174 startup cost, $15,000.