By Mamta Lulla
Rotary Club of Spruce Grove’s support is not only felt in the Tri-Region, but in Edmonton as well.
In 2015, the club donated almost $90,000 to You Can Ride 2 – a group that lets users experience the joy of riding a bike. The group caters mostly to youth with disabilities.
You Can Ride 2 lets kids borrow bikes, teaches cycling courses and is involved in researching best cycling practices for youth with cognitive disabilities.
Thanks to Spruce Grove Rotary Club’s donation, today, the club has its own space.
Before 2015, the You Can Ride 2 program couldn’t expand due to lack of resources and funding to acquire a permanent space. Back then, the bikes were stored in three free storage spaces spread across Edmonton and St. Albert. Volunteers could not accept too many bike donations due to the lack of space.
All that changed when the Spruce Grove Rotary Club saw a need and decided to pitch in.
“We certainly weren’t expecting as much as we received.” said Janine Halayko, one of the volunteer physiotherapists with You Can Ride 2 and the Strategic Director. “We were hoping for somewhere around $15,000 to $20,000.”
Halayko said the Rotary Club of Spruce Grove helped with connections — introducing the program volunteers to Goodwill Industries of Alberta.
“This connection resulted in us finding a permanent storage space, and with us ultimately becoming a program of Goodwill” said Halayko. “Without Rotary (of Spruce Grove), we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
About $50,000 went towards the storage facility within the new facility — Goodwill Impact Centre in Edmonton. The rest went towards purchasing a few specialized bikes and parts like pull bars and chest straps. In one particular case, an oxygen tank holder was welded onto a bike.
The bikes needed for youth with disabilities do not come cheap. The cheapest bike would cost around $500 going up to $8,000.
“We fit a child with a bike and modify the bike to meet their needs,” said Halayko.
The dedicated space also allows for modifications to take place right on site and helps with storage of tools and all the supplies necessary to make a unique bike for every child in need.
But the money and the introductions aren’t all that the Spruce Grove Rotary Club did for You can ride 2. Rotarians have also volunteered at a number of events. In 2017 they, along with dozens of other volunteers, helped 154 kids with disabilities experience the joy of riding a bike.
Under Goodwill, the program hopes to support not only kids but adults too.
“Our hope is that for some, these skills will lead to increased independence and to them securing meaningful employment,” she explained.
With about 10 per cent clientele in the Tri-Region, the program supports kids in various Edmonton and surrounding communities.
To learn more about You Can Ride 2, contact program coordinator Meredith Mantooth, at firstname.lastname@example.org or find the group on Facebook.
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