Taipei, July 24 (CNA) Fifteen children have begun a 10-day bicycle challenge around Taiwan that will include stops in Kaohsiung and New Taipei to provide support and comfort for the elderly in those communities.
The riders set out from Taichung on Monday in the "2018 Love & Hope in Taiwan -- Bicyclists Charity Event Around Taiwan" and will first head toward Kaohsiung, then ride north along Taiwan's East Coast before finishing in northern Taiwan on August 1.
The children, who come from disadvantaged families, will perform dances and give seniors massages at the nursing homes they will visit.
At the starting ceremony, Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said he expected the children to get stronger physically and develop perseverance through the bicycle challenge.
He also hoped they will reach out to all corners of Taiwan to care for senior citizens around the country while also cultivating the concept of helping themselves and helping others, ultimately leaving them with a great experience.
The city of Taichung is organizing this year's challenge along with the Taiwan Association of Women and Children, and its Social Affairs Bureau said the 15 children participating are fifth to 10th grade students.
It highlighted one of them, a 10th-grader named Hsiao-hsiang (小祥), whose mother left home when he was little and whose father died in an accident.
Though he was a slow learner, the association worked with him to bring out his talents and helped him develop painting skills and an interest in cycling, and he is now a coaching intern with this bicycle team, the bureau said.
As the team trained for its round-the-island challenge, Hsiao-hsiang accompanied the team on training rides and learned with the team how to change tires and repair bikes.
His dream is to help children raised in circumstances as difficult as his grow up and find their own ways, the bureau said.