A few weeks ago we wrote about a program in Michigan that uses mountain bikes to help recovering drug and alcohol addicts but it turns out junkies aren’t the only ones harnessing the power of the trail. It turns out mountain biking is good for delinquents and the mentally ill as well.
In Israel, computer science professor Shimon Shocken started a mountain biking program for juvenile detention center inmates. Shocken, a mountain biker himself, uses the bikes to share life lessons about respect and overcoming obstacles. We can’t think of a better lure to motivate teenagers than mountain biking!
Shocken recently spoke about the program and the inspiring video from his talk is embedded below. If you’ve ever had a hard time explaining why you ride to non-mountain-biking friends, Shocken does a great job putting his reasons into words. Here are a couple choice quotes from the talk but watch the whole video if you have time:
When I’m on my bike I feel like I connect with the profound beauty of Israel.
Biking is a matter of empowerment. When I reach the summit of a mountain in the middle of nowhere I feel young, invincible, eternal.
At Bucknall hospital in the UK there’s a mountain biking program for young patients suffering from psychosis. The idea is that mountain biking encourages the teens and young adults to engage in normal activities. Sadly the program’s fleet of Giant mountain bikes was recently stolen but by all accounts it had been a success until now.
It’s really cool to see the positive impact mountain biking can have on the circumstances of the less fortunate. Clearly mountain biking isn’t the destructive, irresponsible sport other groups sometimes make it out to be – mountain biking can improve lives!