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Belfast mum back cycling two years after suffering a stroke

Lisa Lecky enjoying being out on her specially adapted trike bike with her two young children in Ormeau Park, Belfast

MOTHER-of-two Lisa Lecky was always an active person. She walked to and from work in Belfast every day. Two years ago, she suffered a stroke which affected her left side: she lost the power of her left arm and relies on a stick to walk.

Now 40, Lisa never thought she'd be able to walk properly again, let alone cycle.

However, thanks to her local Healthy Living Centre and Sustrans' Community Active Travel Programme, funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA), Lisa has been able to enjoy cycling again through a specially-adapted trike.

The Lower Ormeau Resident's Action Group (LORAG) based at the Shaftesbury Community Recreation Centre, in South Belfast runs a weekly cycling group using reclining bikes, trikes and hand-bikes for people with disabilities.

“I can cycle with one arm using the trike bike," said Lisa.

“I have the brake and bell on the right side. Cycling helps me with my balance and core strength. Riding a bike is so much easier for me than walking. I love it!

"Sustrans then came into the group and developed our cycle skills and our confidence going out in groups. It's been great fun and I like the fact that I can now go out cycling with my kids."

Sustrans Community Active Travel Programme has been working with community groups over the past year in disadvantaged areas of Belfast to promote walking and cycling for all.

Grandmother Julie Fox, from Ballybeen has found a new lease of life through a return to walking.

"I was told to go out and get fresh air for my asthma. My doctor says walking is good for my hip. I can now walk, I couldn't walk before and I was on walking sticks. So this is great."

Julie and Lisa are just two of over 500 people Sustrans has worked with since March in South and East Belfast. The participants have aged from 18 to 90 years old, with some getting on a bicycle for the first time in 25 years.

"Research shows that increasing participation in walking and cycling reduces your risk of developing chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and respiratory conditions," says David Tumilty, Health Improvement Manager at the PHA.

"It also improves sleep, helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces stress and anxiety. The Community Active Travel Programme provides a great opportunity for more communities to enhance this,"

Sustrans is keen to hear from communities in North and West Belfast who would like to participate in the Community Active Travel Programme from January 2018.

Those interested should email belfast@sustrans.org.uk or telephone 028 90434569.

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