This month we rolled out our inaugural bicycle based health fair display booth. We weren’t sure if the five foot display banner would fit on the bicycle along with all the brochures were passing out, but we got it all packed on. Corinna West, the Program Manger, has made many different out of state bicycle journeys, and can pack all kinds of equipment on a bicycle. Here’s a video of the inaugural setup.
We started at the Arts Incubator, then rolled down to the Leedy-Voulkos gallery where mayor Funkhouser was giving a re-election speech. We wandered in and got a free bite to eat. Artists Helping the Homeless was set up outside and they had displays of homeless youth to represent the 2000 KC Youth that are homless each night.
We gave people our Poetry for Personal Power flyer and told them that the most important thing we were trying to communicate was the idea that people can prevent and treat mental illness by using wellness tools like poetry, mindfulness, spirituality, activism, and exercise to build friendships. We asked people to take our two question survey and gave young people SAMHSA’s “What A Difference a Friend Makes” brochure.
People really liked the bicycle. We would roll up and say, “You’ve found Poetry for Personal Power. We’re the rolling bicycle based health fair display booth.” People gave us all kind of comments on that, including:
- “Well, the way you say that, it’s like we should have been looking for you all night long.”
- “That’s a lot of titles for two people.”
- “It’s a cold night to be out on a bicycle.”
- “That’s a really good idea.”
- “Well, of course wellness tools improves mental health. It’s about time someone talked about that.”
- “I work with young people with mental illness and I really hope that people do have positive attitudes.”
- “Hell, yeah you can use our picture. And our video. What you are doing is really exciting. Put those brochures in our bag.” (From the roller derby ladies.)
- “Do you have materials in Spanish?” (We do have some.)
We met a lot of great people during the evening. Jay Matlack from Tricycle Transit (shown here) is the owner of a pedicab business working in Kansas City. He’s shown right at sundown in the historic freight house district just across the tracks from Union Station. He has four bicycles with chairs on the back to carry people around the arts district. This was his first First Friday event to be working. We gave him mental health information and he took one of our survey. Maybe next month we can work out some kind of flyer trading/cross promotional deal. All night long as we were riding we’d run across the four pedicabs. One time we had a bicycle bell ringing concert going on with one of the pedicabs.
Later in the night we rode over to the area by Grinder’s restraurant and the Slap and Tickle gallery. There we met up with the roller derby ladies from the Dead Girl Derby League as they were suiting up for a demo race. They wanted to race one of the pedicabs but either the pedicabs were all busy, or as one of the roller derby ladies said, “Maybe they’re scared of us.” We offered to race them. As they were getting suited up we gave them information brochures and flyers and told them what our program was all about. They were really excited to be trading information. Here’s the video from that race.
All in all, it was a great night. We talked to 147 people. Of those people, 35 of them completed surveys, scoring us pretty high. The two survey questions were:
- The information I got today was helpful. (We scored 4.17 out of 5)
- I feel more open minded, positive, and accepting of young people with mental illness. (We scored 4.28 out of 5)
Maybe the best part of the night was hearing other people’s stories. We heard from Darcy Bloss, who used Neshamah Healing as a personal wellness tool and to help other people as well. We heard from a person who uses music, especially drumming, for wellness as well as a part time work supplement. We heard about a potter who lost his hands and eyesight in the Vietnam war and uses pinchers to make his creations. Probably one of the most fun stories of the night was from Leah Dixon of the Dead Girl Derby League. In her alter ego as Dixie Danger, she’s been able to make a lot friends and build powerful connections with other young people like her.
Here are some of our pictures.