For women in recovery, bikes help heal

MT. AIRY - April 18, 2014

And it's done, in part, by providing them with bicycles.

One of those women is trying to beat alcoholism:

"I started when I was 14 years old and it just escalated to more dangerous substances. It just kept going," said Kathy Wellbank.

The addiction often leads to abuse and prison.

"I didn't function unless I'd get what I needed. I didn't see my family, my friends. It was just a really lonely time in my life," she said.

But with the Gearing Up program - which has partnered with Interim House, a recovery facility - these young women learn that simple bicycling can change that.

"Biking takes away the loneliness and isolation and our women are able to make connections to women who are living in the community and they have a support system once they leave," said Kathy Wellbank of Interim House.

They ride three times a week. The founder of Gearing Up, Kristin Gavin, knew cycling would help because of how she feels when she's riding.

"When I ride my bike I feel very connected to the world around me. You experience it, you smell it," Gavin said.

"Women talk very openly about the struggles of transitioning back into society, and to be able to physically re-enter the world from two wheels is a very powerful thing."

"Eighty five women have graduated from Gearing Up including Thelma Yancy, who was treated here two years ago.

"I have almost five years clean," she said.

Thema has returned as a certified Recovery Specialist.

"I let go of a lot of stuff riding this bike, yes I did. A lot of anger, a lot of resentment," she said.

"I let go of a lot of things riding this bike."

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