After 19 tandem cycling sessions in a group that consisted of 10 volunteers and 10 Bayit Cham clients, the last session and closing event was a mixture of both sadness and great pride and joy in the personal accomplishment of each and every rider ♥.
Bayit Cham participants – religious men on the autism spectrum – were very closed at first and had many questions; most of them had never before ridden a bicycle… Already after the very first session, they returned all excited about their ability to ride a bike – they enjoyed it to the hilt! The fun experience motivated them to keep coming to every cycling session, one after the other. From the start, a request was made to have the group meet once a week rather than once every other week as originally planned. Of course we responded positively to their request…
Each session opened with a review of safely guidelines, delivered by Jeremy, the group’s professional guide from “Etgarim”. Then we divided up into pairs of volunteer and Bayit Cham client, donned our helmets and reflective vests and off we went on a tandem ride, usually to Tel Aviv port and back. Afterwards we gathered for a wrap-up talk and refreshments to recharge our batteries.
Last Thursday was the Tel Aviv group’s last riding session (as part of the project). Group members were greeted with a sumptuous spread, once again heard the safety briefing and then pedaled away for our last joint ride. Upon conclusion, each was asked to summarize and share his feelings about the experience.
Here are some of the responses:
- “It was so much fun! I enjoyed coming every single time!!”
- “Even when it was hard for me and I was in the mood of turning back, the volunteer would persuade me to keep on fighting, speed up and pedal harder. And then we would go on to achieve our goal without even noticing how we did it!”
- “With the last volunteer we sang all the way and it was loads of fun!”
- “Riding outdoors after spending most of the day working / studying in closed quarters is very liberating.”
Everyone unanimously agreed that it’s a shame to end it…
In closing, Odelia Danan, the project director, thanked all the wonderful volunteers who donated their time and gave of themselves. Certificates of Excellence were awarded to all participants who were called up to the stage one by one amid great excitement. They all posed together for a Team Pride photo – members, volunteers, guides and the one-and-only Odelia.
This is a prime example of “One picture is worth a thousand words.”
A second group will be opening soon in Tel Aviv, a group in Lod is already with its foot on the pedal… and you are always welcome to volunteer and have a share in this immense joy.
Odelia Danan – 054-2622035.