7/05/2019 3:00:00 a.m.
7 May 2019
Positive feedback has been received from participants in the first intake of the Cycle Forward programme, which aims to encourage people with arthritis to start cycling, return to cycling, or keep cycling.
Cycle Forward is part of the Let’s Go/ Mā Ake initiative and is a collaboration between Whanganui District Council, Arthritis New Zealand and the Whanganui Multisport Club.
Arthritis New Zealand’s Educator, Lori Davis, says, “The Whanganui Multisport Club has delivered the programme and they’ve done a great job of keeping participants engaged and progressing. There are already some big success stories”.
Let’s Go Cyclist Skills Instructor Michelle Mackenzie says she has seen participants improve “not only physically but in confidence.
“Most of the rides have been along the river pathway and one participant has gone from not being able to ride at all, to being able to ride from town to the sailing club in Castlecliff, which is epic”.
Course participant Jill says she has noticed improved stability through doing the programme. She says she “hasn’t had any trips, which I used to have a lot beforehand, and I’ve noticed more flexibility in my knees.
"I would never have gotten back on a bike if there hadn’t been the support from instructors to teach us the basics and ride with us”.
Ann had a new bike sitting in the shed before the course started but lacked the confidence to ride it, because of a fall years ago. She says, “I was just about ready to sell the bike but then this group started and it was like an answer to a prayer.
"At the start of the course I could only scoot along but now I’m riding. I’ve noticed my balance is better and I’ve gotten a bit fitter.
“Having these cycle-ways in Whanganui has been brilliant for building my confidence; I can’t say enough about how good they’ve been”.
Colleen says before she started the course she used to “struggle to get around Virginia Lake” but her walking has now improved. She adds that “most people with chronic pain get quite socially isolated, so it’s great to have this group.”
Ms Mackenzie says participants from the first intake have made good social connections. Some have now bought their own bicycles, and the group is keen to continue to cycle together.
The spark of the idea for the programme began with the Whanganui Multisport Club, and Whanganui District Council and Arthritis New Zealand have progressed with it by creating a three year pilot programme that may be broadened out to other New Zealand centres.
The programme is one hundred percent funded by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), and a partnership relationship with Horizons Regional Council. Ms Mackenzie says, “It’s rewarding to see our original idea in action and having a positive impact”.
Ms Davis says the instructors are “very accommodating with arranging ride times that suit participants.
“We will be taking enrolments again in the spring. I would urge anyone who is interested in the programme to register their interest with us emailing email@example.com or phoning 0800 663 463. If you would like more information on Arthritis New Zealand, go to https://www.arthritis.org.nz”