Loneliness and social isolation are common among older adults, especially those living in residential care facilities. Clinical studies have shown that social and recreational therapies can be as effective as prescription drugs at reducing depressive symptoms in senior citizens. The Joy Rides @ First Presbyterian Church of Dunedin program (abbreviated to Joy Rides Dunedin) offers residents of area nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehabilitation centers, and memory care units a safe, guided, leisurely tour around the Dunedin community and the Pinellas Trail in a tricycle rickshaw (or "trishaw"), enabling them to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air, sea breezes, and coastal scenery of the area, and to engage socially with each other, neighbors, and other trail users.
Inspired by such programs as Cycling Without Age and Healing Rides, the idea of offering a trishaw ministry in Dunedin through the First Presbyterian Church (FPC) was conceived in the winter of 2018. The following spring, Joy Rides was officially sanctioned as a ministry of the church by FPC's governing board. This had two significant benefits: First, it permitted Joy Rides to receive tax-deductible donations under the church's 501(c)(3) status; and second, all Joy Rides future activities would covered under the church's existing insurance policy.
With FPC providing the organizational structure for Joy Rides, the funding was to come from the community. During Spring Training of 2020, church volunteers raised $6,000 in parking donations from major league baseball fans attending games at nearby TD Ballpark. Then, with a week of games remaining and the cost of a new trishaw within reach, Major League Baseball shut down the season after the outbreak of COVID pandemic. Fortunately, several private donations closed the gap. The first trishaw, a Van Raam Chat, built in the Netherlands, was purchased from Bike-On in April and delivered in June 2020. A second trishaw was added to the fleet in December 2021.
After waiting out the lockdown and the rollout of vaccines, the first official Joy Ride took place on a brisk Good Friday morning, March 29, 2021. The initial guests were Don, who suffered from advanced dementia, and Robbie, his home care nurse. Bundled up in a parka and blanket against the chill, Don was silent the entire trip. A few days later, his wife Pat reported that his only words about that first trishaw ride was that it was "bumpy," but he was willing to go out again. The following Friday was sunny and warm, and Don brought an extra pillow to sit on. Although still mostly non-verbal, he clearly enjoyed himself, smiling and waving at passers-by on the Pinellas Trail. He made several more rides after that, never sharing more than few words but always a broad smile. Don passed away on May 21st, but will always be remembered for showing us that a trishaw ride can bring joy at every stage of life!
For Residents of Senior Living Centers
Joy Rides Dunedin partners with area senior living facilities to schedule trishaw rides as a weekly activity option for residents. The residential care/activity coordinator for each facility collects the required participation forms from residents and schedules the weekly rides. Joy Rides Dunedin provides the trishaws and the guides, and comes to the facility at the scheduled time to conduct the rides. Currently, Joy Rides Dunedin serves the residents of Mease Life, the Magnolia at Mease Life memory care center, and the Stirling House II.
For Residents of Single Family Homes
Dunedin area seniors living in private residences can take trishaw rides on Monday mornings from the Hale Senior Activity Center (330 Douglas Avenue) or Wednesday mornings from the First Presbyterian Church of Dunedin (455 Scotland Street). These rides can be scheduled either one time only or as recurring rides on a monthly basis. Passengers must complete the guest information forms before the first ride and find transportation to and from the church. To schedule a Monday morning trishaw ride at the Hale Center, call the front desk at (727) 298-3299. To schedule a Wednesday morning trishaw ride at First Presbyterian Church, call the church office at (727) 733-2318.
Please arrive a few minutes early to complete the required forms.
For referrals from HelpUsGather.org
Help Us Gather (HUG) is a nonprofit dedicated to people with disabilities. HUG maintains a community calendar of events for people with special needs, hosts gatherings and outings, organizes HUG Ambassadors and volunteers to excite others about the beauty of inclusion, and represents a positive image for people with disabilities at community events. Passengers must complete the guest information forms before the first ride and find transportation to and from the First Presbyterian Church, located at 455 Scotland Street. Rides can be scheduled either one time only or as recurring rides on a monthly basis. Reserve a ride on Wednesday mornings by contacting the First Presbyterian Church office at (727) 733-2318.
Every trishaw ride is supported by an escort cyclist on a conventional bike, who assists the trishaw guide with safe crossings at intersections, communicating with trail users, pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, and controlling the flow of traffic around the trishaw when riding on streets. The support escort can also assist in the event of a minor mechanical problem with the trishaw, or help push the trishaw out through a tight turn or loose surface.
Friends and family members are invited to ride along with with the trishaw as "guest escorts", but must provide their own bicycles.
Note: The Joy Rides team will be on vacation from 12/22 - 1/4. We wish everyone the Happiest of Holidays!
Mondays: 10 am - Noon
Tuesdays: 10 am - Noon
Wednesdays: 10 am - Noon
Thursdays: 10 am - Noon
Fridays: 10 am - Noon
Other times may be available by appointment. Please call or email for information:
Every Joy Ride is an unconditional gift from First Presbyterian Church to the Dunedin community, which it is blessed to be a part of. There is no charge to the guests or the residence home partner for trishaw rides. Joy Rides program expenses are met through donations by the friends and members of First Presbyterian Church and by the residents and visitors of the Dunedin community.
Trishaw guides and support escorts will not accept donations or tips for a trishaw ride. If asked to do so, they will politely provide written instructions for making a donation at the church, by mail, or online. Please respect this policy (or at the very least, indulge us :-). For the volunteer guides, the reward is simply the joy experienced in the giving of the gift without the expectation of receiving something in return.
Of course, Joy Rides Dunedin gratefully accepts donations from individuals, families, foundations, local businesses, and private organizations. See the Donate page for instructions to become a donor/supporter.