Cycling Without Age (CWA) is an international movement that spreads happiness among the elderly community and the whole society thanks to the power of social media storytelling. Founded in Copenhagen eight years ago, this social project is now represented in 47 countries, having more than one million members on board.
Have you ever imagined yourself cycling with 90 years old? Let me tell you how this can be possible but first, let’s briefly go through the history of this international movement.
The bicycle legacy throughout the time
Bicycles date back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, although many people argue that the invention was attributed centuries before. Either way, it wasn´t until the 1890s when this vehicle of two wheels began to be produced massively, becoming more and more prominent due to its low cost and the ease it provides as a way of transport.
Indeed, cycling is nowadays gaining more popularity within societies as preferred way of transport and many countries around the world are investing in urban design to create bicycle-friendly infrastructures that contribute to the accomplishment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Nevertheless, when talking about elderly people biking can be a real challenge. That is one of the reasons why social initiatives, such as Cycling Without Age, promote a change in the system by breaking the barriers that can potentially segregate the elderly from simply enjoying a bike ride. Let’s explore now how CWA was born and how online social networks spread the importance of this initiative, transforming it from a local to an international social movement.
How it all started and the power of social media
It was less than ten years ago when Ole Kassow, a social entrepreneur and the founder of CWA, decided to rent a trishaw and paid a visit to a local care home in Copenhagen. Ole had a delightful idea in mind of offering a bike ride to one of the residents. After an hour, Gertrude went back to the nursing home with a big smile on her face. From this moment, the initiative drove further. Throughout the use of social media and visual platforms such as for example Vimeo and the Documentary Film The Grey Scape, Cycling Without Age is currently giving the possibility to the elderly community to get back to the world on a bike and feel the sense of the wind in the hair again.
Since the project started, more than 10.000 new volunteers are currently expected to join every day as pilots of the 2.700 easy-ride trishaws. These comfortable and stable three-wheel bicycles are the vehicle that turns the trip into a unique and exciting experience both for volunteers and senior citizens.
Parallelly, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are helping CWA to raise awareness about their social initiative. This outreach is contributing to what the “Blogs and Bullets: New Media in Contentious Politics” report, published in 2010 by the United States Institute of Peace, defines as individual transformation, intergroup relations, collective action and external attention. Consequently, new media platforms are enabling CWA to be more accessible while promoting individual change, social interaction and companion between generations as well as spreading inspiring stories.
“Worldwide, more than 60,000 elderly people have been on rides and the Cycling Without Age trishaws cover more than 2.2 million kilometre each year – that’s 53 times around the globe.” Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing in Australia, did the math.https://t.co/aGnyjituYp
— Cycling Without Age (@CycleWithoutAge) March 2, 2019
Mutual benefits of biking and storytelling!
Recent studies have demonstrated that riding a bike is an effective way of reducing cholesterol and the probabilities of enduring heart diseases or cancer. Aside from that, Cycling can be considered an antidote for the immune system to remain young. In addition, it helps to have better mental health and a happier life. In fact, a bike ride can help seniors to avoid depression, contributing to a joyful sense of purpose and an active life.
Hence, Cycling Without Age is improving the quality of life for both the elderly and the volunteers by building new bonds on a transnational level, diffusing information through social media channels and spreading happiness with just simple rides. In this context, social media has enabled a local initiative to be known on an international scale by communicating the positive feedback of the riders.
Would you like to know more about this international movement? Meet some of the protagonists of Cycling Without Age including Finn, 81 years old and Marie, 96 years old, by watching The Grey Scape Documentary Film.