GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – A bike-sharing leisure program is the first of its kind to be introduced in the region thanks to Bell Aliant and the South and Central Health Foundation (SCHF).
The innovative Borrow a Bike program for people living with mental illness throughout central Newfoundland was introduced in Grand Falls-Windsor in June 2016.
The program started with a $5,000-donation from Bell Aliant to the SCHF and is coordinated by the staff of the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Team with Central Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Services.
The funds were used to purchase five adult bicycles, along with helmets and locks, that will be used in group settings and loaned out to clients who are experiencing serious and persistent mental health issues.
During the summer of 2016, 14 clients booked out bikes and used them for varying lengths of time.
Zhivago Leyte was a participant in the bike-sharing program. He said access to the bicycle allowed him to easily travel across town from his home to attend an Adult Basic Education program.
Thanks to the bike-sharing program, Leyte was able to finish his high school education and is now partaking in a nine-week back to work program, after which he hopes to rejoin the work force.
The program is being regionalized thanks to another donation from Bell Aliant. The Bell Let’s Talk Grant of $3,700 will benefit mental health clients in Lewisporte, Gander and Brookfield by expanding the newly instituted Borrow a Bike program to these areas, according to a press release from the SCHF.
Clients in these communities will be notified of the program and will be able to book out a bike through their case manager.
Very few clients own or have access to a bicycle. This program offers the opportunity for clients to access to a bike and benefit from the positive spin offs this type of opportunity can provide such as increased social engagement, physical fitness, education, employment opportunities and general home management, according to SCHF.