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What has two wheels and can play a big role in helping torture survivors heal physically and mentally? If you guessed a bicycle, you’re right.

Since May is National Bike Month we want to share the importance of bicycles to many survivors we care for in Minnesota.

Rehabilitation Exercise helps survivors heal, both physically and emotionally. Physical activity helps survivors manage their stress by releasing endorphins that diminish the perception of pain and act as sedatives. Physically, the exercise can help survivors manage medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

A University of Minnesota medical student donated a bike after touring our St. Paul Healing Center.

A University of Minnesota medical student donated a bike after touring our St. Paul Healing Center.

Transportation Most of our Minnesota clients rely on public transportation. Bicycles give survivors more control in their lives by giving them another mode of transportation – or helping them connect to bus or train lines more quickly than walking.

Recreation An important part of a survivor’s healing is reconnecting with community. Bicycles provide a distraction from intrusive thoughts and memories and give survivors a way to explore their community and connect with other people. And it can be just plain fun to feel the sun and breeze on your face.

For more than fifteen years volunteer Cynthia McArthur has coordinated the collection, repair and distribution of bicycles. Cynthia solicits donations of bikes and bike parts through online postings, connections with local bike shops and neighborhood organizations.

Steve, from St. Paul donated some great gear to share with our clients – lights, a rack, a helmet and leg bands.

Steve donated some great gear to share with our clients – lights, a rack, a helmet and leg bands.

Volunteers including the “St. Paul Dads,” meet monthly to fix bikes, listen to music and share cycling and family stories. Individual volunteers find bikes, fix bikes with survivors, deliver bikes to survivors and help survivors learn to ride bikes safely in their communities. Every year, 30 or more bicycles are repaired and given to survivors for rehabilitation, transportation and recreation.

How you can help

  • If you’d like to donate a bike or parts, contact Cynthia at cynthia.mcarthur@gmail.com.
  • Accessories like helmets, racks, water bottles, lights and locks are needed for safety, security and convenience. Gift cards to Target, Walmart or bike shops allow survivors to get the gear they need.
  • Consider arranging a bike drive through your community organization, scout troop or church.
  • Donate tire patch kits or tool sets for volunteers to repair and tune-up bikes.
  • Contribute to the purchase of a repair stand and Park Bike Tool kit so volunteers check them out from CVT to use to fix bikes.
A CVT volunteer donated a lovely woman's bike.

A CVT volunteer donated a lovely woman’s bike.

Want to learn more? Watch this video to see how bicycles are repaired and readied to be given to survivors. Thanks to Dan Marshall for his photography.

Thank you to Lowertown Bike Shop, Grand Performance, Penn Cycle, Erik’s Bike Shop and Express Bike Shop for donating parts, and to North Star Storage for donating a storage unit to hold bicycles until they are repaired and delivered to survivors.