By Christine Aurigema
ARLINGTON, Va., -- When Spc. Jennifer Davenport entered the Army Recovery Care Program, she hadn’t ridden a bicycle since grade school. That changed when she was assigned to the Soldier Recovery Unit at Fort Carson, Colorado where she was encouraged to give it a try.
A year ago, Davenport began the SRU’s adaptive reconditioning program and rode a recumbent bicycle for the first time despite being unsure whether cycling was for her.
Today, she’s still riding it and taking on trails with a mountain bike. She even rode a fat tire bicycle through snow and attended an adaptive reconditioning trip during which she mountain biked, paddle boarded and kayaked.
Adaptive reconditioning is one of the ways ARCP supports wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. Through sports and activities, the AR program helps Soldiers optimize their wellbeing, achieve their goals and return to active lifestyles.
Davenport stated that the AR program had an immense effect on her physical fitness and helped her overcome mental health issues. She explained that the AR program offered multiple options, guidance and motivation – all of which made activities available to her that she thought she could not physically do anymore.
“They help you find another way to do things,” Davenport said.
At least once a week, Davenport’s cycling group bikes a trail. She enjoys cycling because it’s a good workout that challenges her but doesn’t cause her a lot of pain. It’s also an activity that gets her outdoors with other cyclists and gives her a sense of belonging.
Some may be hesitant to try cycling and she understands why.
“You have a fear of hurting yourself worse than you already are,” she said. “You become super protective of the body parts that don’t work normally anymore.”
Davenport reassures fellow Soldiers by sharing her own experience.
“You’ve just got to try it,” she said. “Just getting past that initial, ‘I can’t do anything attitude,’ that’s the hardest part for anybody.”
She encourages others to find people that support them because it’s one of the most important things to her.
“For me, this program has been my support,” she said.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Davenport swam, mountain biked, practiced yoga and used the elliptical and recumbent bike at the gym. She still practices yoga and bikes trails, but other parts of her fitness regimen were curtailed. New activities have taken their place.
Davenport stated that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the AR program made numerous options available, such as online workouts, fitness tracking apps, and events and activities for Soldiers and their families.