RAGBRAI at On With Life

RAGBRAI is a huge event in Iowa, and it’s kicking off this week. Whether you’re riding a tandem bike, solo, or a low-rider, most people’s RAGBRAI looks virtually the same. At On With Life, our first RAGBRAI has to look a little bit different.

For most of the people we serve here at On With Life, riding a bike just isn’t physically possible. That didn’t stop Kenzie Wyble and Christa Freeman, recreational therapists at On With Life, from wanting to make it happen for persons served.

“Being a rec therapist, our main focus is to incorporate leisure interventions in their daily life but also modify that and expand their leisure opportunities, too,” Wyble said. “You don’t have to physically be on a bike to be working on your goals or adding miles to RAGBRAI.”

She said therapist have a variety of different ways persons served can be involved in racking up miles for RAGBRAI, such as working on standing tolerance and propelling a wheelchair independently.

There is also a hand bike and an FES bike for persons served to add miles to their On With Life Campus.

Oh, yeah, did we mention that all three On With Life campuses are involved?

“The really cool thing about it is that it’s not just inpatient Ankeny; it’s all On With Life campuses, which is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this,” Wyble said. “I think that just makes us so unique and different to be able to incorporate all campuses.”

Even campus to campus, the ways the therapy teams are adapting this event for persons served is not the same because all persons served have different needs, and no one knows that better than their therapy teams.

Persons served are not the only ones getting involved, however. The On With Life staff, families and former persons served can take part in this event as well. Staff can log in the miles they rode on their own by sending a simple email. Alternatively, they can take advantage of their lunch hour, grab a bike and take a few laps around the therapy gardens. The employee engagement committee even put together a ride last Saturday that could count toward the mile total, braving the heat to bike from Madrid to Woodward.

More than just the benefit from physical exercise or the mood regulation that comes with it, modifying something like RAGBRAI can give persons served a sense of independence and self-confidence.

“Our biggest thing is just showing persons served that these things are absolutely possible with certain modifications. We want to give them that opportunity, whether it sounds crazy to them or not.”

Wyble said she is excited to see all the community involvement play out with this event, whether that be persons served who no longer go to On With Life, families of persons served and staff, or the persons served still at the facilities. She plans to hang all the pictures they receive from former persons served in the hallways, so current persons served can see someone they maybe haven’t seen in a while and see that these things are possible for them.

“It’s just a really good sense of motivation,” she said. “Our inpatient persons served are very competitive, so I would say that’s also something I’m excited for, to see them really push themselves in that sense.”

On Friday, after all the hard miles are done, On With Life will be taking persons served to a local park to cap off RAGBRAI and celebrate their accomplishments.