Wise men are more often associated with riding camels…but in east Belfast they have been spotted riding red bikes.
The East Belfast Wise Men’s Shed, which is supported by East Belfast Community Development Agency and is based at Connswater Shopping Centre, has been taking part in a new cycle training programme. Delivered by Sustrans, the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Community Active Travel Programme is designed to encourage everyone across Belfast to walk and cycle more as part of everyday life.
Members of the East Belfast Wise Men’s shed, who are all aged 50+, have received their National Standard Cycling Skills training and certificates from Sustrans, and the group has also benefitted from a set of ‘red rider’ bikes supplied to help them get more active.
“ Physical activity is a great way to improve your health and wellbeing. ”
Mervyn Cleland from the Wise Men’s Shed was delighted with the impact. He said: “Sustrans' programme has been great for us. It’s wonderful to see the men, some in their 80’s getting used to cycling again. Riding a bicycle is a skill that lasts a lifetime, which I think the men are proving by getting out on the red bikes and exploring their community.”
Presenting the certificates on behalf of Sustrans, Active Travel Officer, Tom O’Dowd said: “Working with the Wise Men’s Shed is a great pleasure for Sustrans. It is very encouraging to see people returning to cycling, especially after decades of not getting on a bike. Our work with the men demonstrates that people can be part of the growing trend in active travel in Belfast, regardless of age.”
David Tumilty, Health Improvement Manager at the PHA said: “Physical activity is a great way to improve your health and wellbeing. Not only does it reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke, some forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes, it also increases energy levels, helps maintain a healthy weight and benefits your mental health, reducing stress and anxiety.
“This Community Active Travel Programme is a great way to help individuals get active and work towards the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of 150 minutes moderate intensity physical activity each week. For advice on getting more active, visit the PHA’s website www.choosetolivebetter.com which also has tips on setting targets and more ways to move more and move more often.”
Sustrans is delivering the Community Active Travel Programme over the next three years in partnership with communities from twelve Council wards across the city.
Sustrans will be delighted to hear from any community-based organisations who would like to find out more or work with us. Contact us at 028 90434569.