Kenya: Isiolo Cyclists Group Turns Into Youth Empowerment Platform

A group in Isiolo that was started to encourage youths to begin cycling for physical fitness has grown into an empowerment platform for young people.

It is geared towards talent development and enhanced social interactions.

The Isiolo Cyclists Club that started early this year with less than 10 members has grown the number to nearly 40, and apart from cycling, ensures the members are fully engaged and do not indulge in drug and substance abuse.

Isiolo is among the counties affected by youth radicalisation and drug abuse, with huge number of the young people dropping out of school and engaging in crime due to addiction.

Make youths productive

The group of young men and women, which is supported by the Mwenda Thuranira Foundation, usually cycles along the Isiolo-Moyale highway every weekend for two hours while sensitising the youth on the need to develop their skills, be productive and shun promiscuous activities.

Its Organising Secretary Wisdom Kizito said the idea was mooted following increasing number of youths indulging in drug and substance abuse and joining terror groups with the hope of making ends meet.

"We decided to come together for a common course of cycling for fitness while also bringing on board young people so that they are active and engaged," said Mr Kizito.

During water breaks, the participants conduct short meetings where they share their experiences and encourage each other before continuing with the cycling.

Covid-19 guidelines

On Saturday, the young men and women cycled from Isiolo town to Archers Post in Samburu, a distance of about 33 kilometres, while educating residents on the Covid-19 guidelines, mental health and the need to undertake regular exercises to avoid lifestyle diseases which are a health concern.

Cycling, which is a low impact workout, targets lower body muscles.

The Isiolo town Youth Innovation Centre has come in handy in offering the young people space to interact, share ideas and socialise, which has enabled some of them discover their talents.

"The group has helped me a lot in growing my artistic skills and I have been able to keep fit," said Ms Idah Gakii, who said it is a challenge manoeuvring through Isiolo town due to recklessness by motorists and the blatant disregard of traffic rules.

Protect cyclists

She called on the government to protect cyclists and ensure they are respected like other road users.

The group's chairman, Erick Mwenda, said the interaction enables the youth learn from each other and grow their skills, which they can turn into an economic activity.

"The engagement helps one to open up, release the stress and easily fight and avoid depression," said Mr Mwenda, while appealing for help to acquire protective gear for cycling.

Mr Isa Mohammed of the Isiolo Conservationist Trust, expressed the need to support and embrace biking as an environment friendly means of transport that does not emit carbon into the atmosphere.

Politician Mwenda Thuranira hailed the initiative, saying it will go a long way in ensuring youths stay free from drugs, are productive and responsible citizens.

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