CHILDREN with learning disabilities may face numerous obstacles in their daily activities but Challenges Media director Mary Chen wants them to engage in a healthier lifestyle through cycling, with the aid of volunteers.
Challenges Media, a social enterprise and media platform for the voice of ability, is also a platform for the community to be involved in sociable causes in a sustainable way.
It has organised several programmes to help children with learning disabilities.
Chen is collecting used bicycles from the public to recycle them into tandem bikes to be used by special children in the ‘Recycle a Bicycle Campaign’.
The bicycles will be used in the ‘Challenges Tandem Cycle 4 Change Project’, which gives the disabled an opportunity to experience cycling.
However, as they require assistance while cycling, tandem bicycles are considered ideal for the project as it allows volunteers to look after the special child while cycling together.
As buying tandem bicycles can be costly, the team decided to have custom-made tandem bicycles with elongated handles to enable the disabled child to sit in front, with the volunteer seated behind.
Chen said this could help the child feel safe, in addition to helping volunteers keep an eye on the child to ensure his or her safety.
“To enable us to collect more used bicycles, we decided to take our campaign into schools and colleges,” said Chen, adding that many graduates of tertiary institutions often abandoned their old bikes in their dormitories.
Chen explained that they ran a three month campaign between October and December to collect bicycles and their parts from the public and cycling clubs in Ampang and Shah Alam.
However, plans to widen the collection points are in the offing.
“As different bicycles are made from different materials, having more bicycles gives us more materials to work with,” said Chen, adding that it took four bicycles to make one tandem bike.
Chen said the plan was to collaborate with various universities to collect bicycles, in addition to tapping into the skills of engineering students at these institutions to help make tandem bicycles for their project.
She added that they recently launched a one-month collaboration with University Malaya to collect bicycles of students who no longer needed them.
Additionally, they have also received 10 tandem bicycles from OCBC Bank to jumpstart their cycling training programme.
Having a disabled son herself, Chen is passionate about the cause and hopes that the community will get involved in donating bicycles, but also as volunteers.
“In 2015, we will run the campaign in more schools and colleges,” said Chen, adding that the public was welcome to donate bicycles or come in and be trained as ride captains to mentor the special kids.
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