Helping Clients Gain Independence and Self-Sufficiency Through a Bikes for Clients Program

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This webinar, presented on 11/16/2011, features Cynthia McArthur, long-time volunteer at the Center for Victims of Torture.

This webinar is part of the National Capacity Building (NCB) webinar series. NCB is a project of the Center for Victims of Torture.


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Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Take two wheels, add some pedals and brakes, and finish with a flourish of gears and you have what Cynthia McArthur considers a valuable tool for helping victims of torture progress in the healing process.  McArthur, long-time volunteer at the Center for Victims of Torture and an avid bicyclist, first recognized the benefits of a bicycle donation program while seeking to combine her background in social work with her love for the sport. What resulted was the official Bikes for Clients Program, an innovative approach to client treatment that at its heart is a community service project.

While the initiative began as a simple donation center in McArthur's garage that operated on nights and weekends, the obvious benefits of the program quickly inspired her to expand its reach. The program now serves a vast number of CVT clients, pairing them with bikes that help them get to work, school, and other appointments while simultaneously allowing them to learn about their environment and community. And the benefits don’t stop there. According to McArthur, the most notable outcome of the program is the incredible impact being paired with a bike can have on a client’s recovery and healing. “Clients tell us that they ride because it relieves stress and depression,” she says. “It is a way for them to take initiative and cope with the uncertainty of what is going on in their lives at the time.” Bolstered by the freedom the bikes afford, the benefits the clients experience from the program span physical and mental realms.

While McArthur takes care to detail the positive impacts observed in the Bikes for Clients Program, she also devotes a significant portion of this webinar to outlining the specific strategies other healing centers can employ to initiate a program of similar design. “This bike program is not just a pilot project unique to CVT,” says McArthur. “It is something that can be replicated almost anywhere else.” By detailing the three main components of the program--the clients, the center, and the bikes themselves--McArthur skillfully illustrates how other healing centers can create their own Bikes for Clients operations. Covering specifics of how to best connect clients to bikes, set up the application process, and organize for repairs, this webinar leaves listeners well prepared to design, implement, and troubleshoot a bicycle donation program in their own area.


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