May 12, 2009
Meridian clinic offers hands-on introduction to handcycling
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News
Methodist Rehabilitation Center will offer a free introduction to handcycling from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 16 at the Frank Cochran Center in Highland Park in Meridian.
One of several adaptive sports available at Methodist Rehab, handcycling is basically biking without the legwork, says Ginny Boydston, director of therapeutic recreation for the Jackson hospital.
“Riders sit in chair-style seats and pedal with their hands,” she explained. “It’s a great activity for wheelchair users who want to get some exercise and explore the outdoors.”
While Methodist Rehab has offered handcycling for several years, a lack of equipment had limited the scope of the program. But a recent grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation made it possible to purchase seven new handcycles and offer clinics across the state.
“We’ve wanted to get more people involved in handcycling, and clinics are a good way to accomplish that goal,” Boydston said. “When people get a chance to actually ride the cycles, they see that a disability doesn’t have to keep them from enjoying the benefits of biking.”
Mike Blackburn of Newton took up the sport several years ago, and says he enjoys the freedom it provides. “It’s a fun way to get away from the house,” said Blackburn, a quadriplegic since a 1991 car accident. “You can cover a lot of ground with it, whereas a wheelchair you can’t.”
Handcycling also provides a great way to stay in shape, said Wiley Clark of Moss Point, who will be one of the instructors at the clinic. “Handcycling gives me a lot of aerobic exercise,” said Clark, a three-time Paralympian in wheelchair racing. “You can get into a cadence and push for hours. I’ve gone 83 miles on the Longleaf Trace.”
The Meridian clinic is sponsored by Methodist Rehab, the City of Meridian Parks and Recreation, The Crossings and Little Caesars Pizza. It is funded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, a non-profit that supports spinal cord injury research and rehabilitation.
The free handcycling clinic is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 16 in the Frank Cochran Center at Highland Park in Meridian. It is open to individuals with paralysis, ages 15 and older. For more information, call Jayne McKinion at 601-679-0025.
Wiley Clark of Moss Point, left, and Randy Lavender of Tupelo rest for a minute during a group handcycle ride on the Longleaf Trace.