EUROPE 1 AND YOU – In La Rochelle, scooter rides to break the isolation of the elderly
Offer a free scooter bike ride to residents of EHPADs, and to individuals over 60 years of La Rochelle: this is what the association “À vélo sans age” allows, in partnership with the municipal action center of the prefecture of Charente-Maritime. Since February, three times a week, about thirty volunteers take turns to offer residents of five public EHPADs in the city a breath of fresh air for about forty minutes along the coast of La Rochelle.
“You can get on, the carriage is there” presents Béatrice, co-responsible for this initiative of the scooter ride project. Béatrice, now retired, is a volunteer for the association “À vélo sans age”. “We’re going to see the beach” says the one who is now a pilot and guide for Arlette, resident of an EHPAD in La Rochelle. “Let’s go!” said Arlette, plying on her knees to be warm during the forty-minute walk by the sea.
Break the isolation
“Ah, the coast is magnificent… There, a few small boats like that, the lighthouse at the end of the world”. And with that: “We have the smell of the sea, we have a little iodine”, explains the journalist from Europe 1. “Yes, the sound of the sea which is agitated a little. Each time, it is the same… I have tears in my eyes” marvels Arlette in front of the Atlantic Ocean, and where we can see the Ile de Ré in the distance.
Thanks to the scooter outings, La Rochelaise was able to break the isolation and meet new people. She rejoices: “I already had a good old gentleman for example, who seemed delighted. Then I had others, it depends on the day” enthuses the one who takes advantage of the sea air cycling for the fourth time already. An initiative that puts balm in his heart: “What did you feel before?” “Loneliness alone, a little bit”.
Sad moments quickly forgotten when she was ecstatic to discover along the way to the lighthouse at the end of the world a green path, synonymous with the arrival of spring: “You see the little daisies which are also starting to make a beautiful little rug over there”.
As the blue landscape of the beach passes, the minutes also pass, it is already time to return to the EHPAD says Béatrice: “before the meal!”. “Already!” sighs Arlette who, not even getting off the scooter, is thinking about her next trip. “Yes, I know there will be others. I will be very wise to qualify.” she slips into a smile. Excursion scheduled for next week.
The goal of this project “is to create intergenerational links” explains Francis Bru, who initiated this initiative with Béatrice. “The objective is, for example, to have a person walk with their daughter or granddaughter. That one of the family members follow them on a bicycle”.
But the association “A vélo sans age” is calling for donations, because a scooter costs more than 10,000 euros. The first was funded by a generous donor from La Rochelle, who wished to remain anonymous. The next tricycle will be financed by AG2R la Mondiale, which will allow, with the arrival of fine weather, to offer even more rides.