New direction for dumped bikes

The Sunrise Rotary Club recently finished converting their latest batch of old bikes into wheelchairs to be sent to needy recipients in 31 disadvantaged countries.

Their ongoing “Bikes to Wheelchairs” project assembles simple and robust wheelchairs using left-over scrap bicycle frame parts, donated from Gladstone region waste tips.

The club’s figures indicate that of the 74-million people worldwide who need a wheelchair, 20 million do not have one. In addition, commercial wheelchairs are not hardy enough for the conditions in some developing countries.

Membership chair of the Rotary Club of Gladstone Sunrise, Graeme Bartlett, said the project gave those in need a whole new level of freedom:

“Simple wheelchairs like this will completely change the life of a disabled person and also their family, as it allows both the disabled person and their carer to be more independent and productive,” he said.

“They are produced for about $100 and it is a sobering to think that the life of a whole family can be drastically changed forever, by the gift of a hundred-dollar wheelchair.”

All money donated to the project goes directly to building wheelchairs, as the work is done by Rotarians and friends. Some of the chairs produced this time were painted with indigenous designs by student volunteers from Toolooa State High School.

Graeme said the project builds on the work of their partner group, Rotary Sunrise Surfers Paradise, who have refined a design and construction model to efficiently make the chairs.

The Gold Coast group can certainly claim expertise, having manufactured over 8000 wheelchairs since the project’s inception 20 years ago.

Community groups working with the Rotary clubs often value-add to the assembled wheelchairs when they are shipped, including clothing, knitted items and toys in the parcel.

The club has an ongoing agreement the Gladstone Regional Council to collect all bikes that were previously dumped to supply the project. The club has the use of a workshop to use temporarily but a permanent home/workshop needs to be found for the long-term sustainability of the project.  If you can help, contact Rotary Gladstone Sunrise on Facebook.