Pedaling into retirement as a certified cycling instructor
While many seniors dive into their retirement plans and enjoy what the new pace of life brings, there was no slowing down for 73 year old Malcolm Chen, who is a grandfather and an avid cyclist who has cycled in countries such as Fiji and Sarawak. He peddled into retirement and became a certified cycling instructor with the purpose of teaching children with disabilities and to better understand how to interact and engage with them.
Growing up, Malcolm had a dream of creating a more inclusive society through the power of the bicycle and when his mother, who was an educator, passed on in 2014, he took a leap of faith and founded Ageless Bicyclists, in memory of her, to carry on the legacy and values she had lived out.
A non-profit organization, Ageless Bicyclists helps children with disabilities build confidence by teaching them how to cycle and perform simple repair works in hopes that they can lead and enjoy a healthy and active life and eventually find employment. When he first embarked on this non-profit journey in 2015, he faced multiple challenges and rejections. Not only was there a lack in financial support, Malcolm was also lacking in knowledge on interacting with children with special needs. Constantly remembering wise words from his mother to ‘Go on learning and never give up!’, Malcolm, in his late 60s, decided to take on a positive attitude towards lifelong learning and became a certified cycling instructor in 2017 and educated himself to better understand autism.
Go on learning and never give up!
Founder of Ageless Bicyclists
Working in tandem with the teachers from Grace Orchard School since 2016, Ageless Bicyclists developed and conducted cycling programmes for students diagnosed with Mild Intellectual Disability (MID) and Mild Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These lessons encourage social interaction amongst the students as well as the volunteer buddies they are paired up with, playing an integral part of a holistic education. When asked what keeps him motivated every day, Malcolm shares, “Waking up every morning is a blessing. Once a task has begun, never leave it till it’s done. Be the labour great or small, do it well or not at all. Witnessing the broad smiles on the faces of the students and their parents keeps me motivated as I know I can make a difference in their lives.”
In the new year, Malcolm has plans for Ageless Bicyclists to focus more on family bonding and strengthening relationships amongst siblings with disabilities, youths -a- risk and those from low income families. He also hopes to bring seniors together and create a community of active seniors who can give back to society. A few programmes in the pipeline are FamiliAffairs Cycling Expeditions, Inclusive Ride4Austism in conjunction with Autism Awareness Month, bike mechanic and repair as well as to fundraise for six buddybikes.
Waking up every morning is a blessing. Once a task has begun, never leave it till it’s done. Be the labour great or small, do it well or not at all.
Founder of Ageless Bicyclists
Malcolm hopes to raise awareness for this special group within our society, change mindsets in attitude and perception, enabling them to live in a more inclusive society. To achieve this, Ageless Bicyclists will require more like-minded and passionate people, regardless of age. Volunteering is not just for the young but for people of all ages. Interestingly for Ageless Bicyclists, as volunteer numbers increased steadily over the years, many are retirees who want to contribute back to society while staying fit at the same time.
In this new year, why not consider sharing your Time, Talent, Treasure and Voice and together we can become a #CityofGood.
If you are interested to find out more about volunteering or donating, visit giving.sg for a list of various activities you can participate in.
6 Questions x 6 Minutes
Break down the situation into smaller pieces which is much easier to resolve and succeed
Most important life lesson
It is not just having intelligence, passion, empathy and integrity but of paramount importance is the level of emotional intelligence.
For young leaders today
While we are book smart, we should also be practical, discerning, pragmatic and altruistic. When we strive to be the best, there is a tendency we will lose sight of our surroundings and the people around us.
One meal with any leader in the world
Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China
One power to change the world
Changing the world would be a challenging task. However, it begins very much with making a personal change. My fervent hope is for people to embrace inclusivity, as I feel that there is lack of empathy and support towards the community with special needs.
One advice to senior volunteers
Stay active in spirit, mind and body as we age gracefully. Volunteering in sports has many benefits such as maintaining physical fitness and mental well-being; enhancing social interaction and bonding between and amongst youth, families and community.