For any walker, rider or driver around the streets of Pattaya it would be hard not to notice the increasing popularity of cycling. This may be viewed as an inconvenience to some impatient motorized vehicle drivers but as a way of staying healthy, riding a bike is an excellent choice.
One thousand riders recently gathered at the Pattaya School for the Blind in Naklua and set off on a 30km charity bike ride around the city to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand, which is under the royal patronage of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.
The event was named ‘Bike with the Blind’, and several blind and visually impaired students from the school climbed onto two seat tandems, with a sighted rider in front, and joined the ride which ended at Pattaya City Hall.
For many of the students this was the first time they had ever ridden a bike, let alone cycle a long distance and at such a fast pace, but they appeared to love the speed and feeling the breeze on their faces.
Almost one hundred thousand baht was raised for the Pattaya school, and simultaneous bike rides also took place in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and several cities in the south, and all to raise awareness and much needed funds for local schools for blind and visually impaired students.
The Pattaya School for the Blind currently provides an education for one hundred and ten students, from kindergarten level up to grade nine, and it also has a vocational training center. Of all the schools in Thailand for blind students, the Pattaya school is unique as it is one of only two such schools which accept children who have multi-disabilities, such as children who are blind and who are also living with autism, learning and mobility disabilities, who are all welcomed and educated.