A formal opening of the physical activity center at Kleppur
WOW Cyclothon contestants raised over 21 million ISK towards a physical activity center at the University Hospital‘s Psychiatric department at Kleppur.
The physical activity center at Kleppur was formally opened Tuesday December 22nd. María Einisdóttir, managing director of the Psychiatric department, welcomed the founders and project managers of WOW Cyclothon as well as the Hjólakraftur teams and other guests and told them of the work that is already well underway at the center.
WOW Cyclothon 2015 was held in good weather (for the most part) in June when over 1,000 cyclists took on the 1,358 km Ring Road around Iceland in endless daylight. The race has now become the biggest cycling event in Iceland and according to Matthias Ebert, who won the solo category, the race is one of the biggest ultra-cycling races in the world when it comes to number of participants.
Raising the bar
All in all participants in WOW Cyclothon raised a record breaking 21,728,250 ISK, a considerably higher sum than the year before when they raised 15 million ISK. Working together as one the four teams of Hjólakraftur, a physical activity project for children and teenagers who are at risk of various lifestyle diseases, won the pledge competition by raising 1,034,500 ISK. A close second was the team from MP Bank who raised 1,021,000 ISK. All the pledges went towards building up the physical activity center at Kleppur and hiring a physical therapist to lead the work. The center will offer a more holistic therapy for patients by combining exercise with physical education and support. The center has already begun treating patients thanks to the hard working staff at Kleppur and the pledges raised during WOW Cyclothon.
The founders and project managers behind WOW Cyclothon are ecstatic by these great results and want to thank everyone who helped make this a reality. From the people who cycled around Iceland for a good cause to the ones who followed the race and sent pledges.
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Cycling towards a physical activity center at the University Hospital‘s Psychiatric department
Skúli Mogensen and Magnús Ragnarsson, founders of WOW Cyclothon, shake hands with María Einisdóttir, managing director of the University Hospital‘s Psychiatric department.
The fourth WOW Cyclothon relay race will be held on June 23rd -26th 2015. Over 1000 participants have signed up for this year’s race, cycling around Iceland in less than 72 hours and raising pledges for a good cause.
Last year WOW Cyclothon participants raised over 15 million ISK for the University Hospital’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery. This year all pledges raised during the Cyclothon will go toward funding a physical activity center at the University Hospital of Iceland’s Psychiatric Department, Kleppur, as mental health issues seem to garner less attention in today’s society. The money raised will go towards the development and infrastructure of the physical activity center as well as hiring a professional physical therapist to lead this project. Mental health issues are often somewhat of a taboo and are shrouded by misconceptions and prejudice. In addition to raising funds for facilities and staff for the physical activity center WOW Cyclothon’s organizers want to put their efforts toward dispelling misconceptions and raising awareness about matters of mental health.
“Mental diseases are serious and one of the leading causes for chronic illnesses. Researches indicate that a large part of those dealing with mental illnesses are more likely to be physically inactive and have unhealthy dietary habits which impair their quality of life than healthy individuals. This leads to life style related diseases and a seriously impaired quality of life. We all know the various benefits of exercise for our general health and wellbeing, this also applies to people who deal with mental health issues, and for instance patients suffering from schizophrenia who exercise seem to be more in control of their symptoms. These symptoms are for example a lack of initiative, social isolation and hallucinations. Exercising is a large part of a patient’s recovery so being able to offer the services of a physical therapist in an activity center is a great benefit for these people, their quality of life and society as a whole,” says María Einisdóttir, managing director of the University Hospital‘s Psychiatric department.
“In our Psychiatric Department in Laugarás physical therapists have been helping young people with psychotic disorders but no such treatments have been offered at Kleppur Psychiatric Hospital due to lack of funds. Kleppur Psychiatric Hospital (a department within the University Hospital of Iceland) has 50 beds as well as a large out-patient program. The pledges raised during WOW Cyclothon will help us to offer a more holistic therapy for our patients, combining exercise with physical education and support. With the help of WOW Cyclothon we will be able to turn our dream into a reality,” María adds.
The activity center
Exercise greatly benefits people battling with mental illnesses so the importance of developing a physical therapy program for this group within the University Hospital of Iceland is great. By setting up an activity center, led by physical therapists, patients will be able to exercise, increasing their physical health and quality of life.
The activity center is an experimental project for three years. To create the center Kleppur Psychiatric Hospital needs to hire two physical therapists and buy equipment for their sports hall. The goal is to develop a physical activity center and hire physical therapist Rafn Harald Rafnsson to lead the project. Hopefully the project will result in a better lifestyle for patients as well as lower drug costs for both users and society as a whole. First and foremost the physical activity center’s goal is to increase the overall quality of life for those who need it. Experience shows that patients suffering from mental illnesses have a faster recovery and can sooner partake in society again if physical exercise is as part of their therapy.
“It’s no secret that good physical health and exercising has a great impact on everyone’s quality of life. Those who suffer from mental illnesses often have a hard time taking care of their physical health while dealing with great psychological and emotional difficulties. Helping these people take care of their physical health can make a huge difference. By giving each individual the support he or she needs, educating them and giving them a variety of choices when it comes to physical exercise we can guaranty an increased quality of life which is a key element in a dynamic and personalized psychiatric care. In this regard the pledges raised through WOW Cyclothon are incalculable,” says Hjalti Einarsson, project manager at the University Hospital’s Psychiatric Department.