Every Thursday, the residents of the Trinity Terrace retirement community gather at Trinity Trail for a bike ride. But they don’t do it alone. The residents relax and enjoy the ride in specialized rickshaws piloted by TCU students.
Trinity resident Emma Coley has never missed a ride in the rickshaw.
“They bought the two rickshaws and set it up and asked me if I would be interested, and I said sure,” Coley said. “Anything to get me out, and I love it and I wouldn’t miss one.”
The volunteer “pilots” of these rickshaws are all TCU students, most of whom have been recruited by sociology instructor Dr. Keith Whitworth.
“It’s just a way for the students to give back to the community and for the residents to experience something that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” Whitworth said.
This project is part of an international movement called Cycling Without Age. It was founded by Ole Kassow in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2012, and is now in 28 countries around the world. Kassow’s mission was to get elderly citizens with limited mobility back on bicycles.
The official website states: “Life unfolds at all ages, young and old, and can be thrilling, fun, sad, beautiful and meaningful. Cycling Without Age is about letting people age in a positive context – fully aware of the opportunities that lie ahead when interacting in their local community.”
Spending time outdoors has great health advantages for senior citizens, but too few actually reap these benefits, as reported by Community Home Health Care.
Trinity resident Carol McCarty said a lot of residents never venture outside.
“Some people never leave or get out of their room, except for when they eat and then they go back to their room,” said Trinity resident Carol McCarty. “They never go outside.”
For senior citizens, going outside can improve the immune system, boost vitamin D levels, improve focus and recover from injuries at a faster rate, according to Community Home Health Care.
The program came to the attention of Keith Manning, the operations project manager for Trinity Terrace, after one of the residents who was an avid cyclist suggested this program to him.
Manning said the partnership with TCU was a natural fit.
“I love the fact that we have older adults talking with the students, getting to swap life stories and learn about things from each other,” Manning said. “Intergenerationality is one of the founding factors of Cycling without Age.”
First-year pre-nursing major Bryce Cherry said he enjoys getting to know the residents on a personal level.
“I mainly enjoy the human aspect of it like getting to talk to people and getting to know their stories and everything they’ve been through from homemakers to retired air force colonels,” Cherry said.