The project has been targeted at pupils of Secondary Croydon Special Needs schools. Pupils who have taken part in the project have a range of health conditions, including autism, cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome and genetic disorders. Many of the participants are from low income and deprived backgrounds, with 50% having free school meals. Some participants also have family members with special educational or physical needs.
Participants face a range of barriers to cycling for a number of reasons: independency limitation, physical difficulties, lack of family participation in cycling and communication and awareness issues. Many also face significant financial barriers to cycling.
The project has provided the opportunity to take part in a range of activities, from mountain biking to track cycling, on-road cycling to BMX. All participants have taken part in Bikeability training, and have achieved a range of abilities, with some attaining Level 3. Activities have taken part in a number of venues across the boroughs: Croydon Sports Arena, Herne Hill Velodrome, Merton BMX track and South Norwood Park. This has provided safe spaces for the children to learn and build their confidence in cycling. Some have progressed to on-road cycling, with a number even tackling complex and busy road junctions. Levels of those who can cycle in the partner schools are as high as 90% of pupils.
Children who are taught cycling have the opportunity to see they are capable of achieving things they thought were beyond their abilities. The increased confidence that this experience provides experience that can be transferred to other challenges, in both the long and the short term. The sessions see participants socialising and communicating in a way that is often absent in the classroom.
The project leaders have seen the development of participants over the course of the project, and hope similar projects can be set up in every borough in London. The project has involved much more than teaching participants how to cycle: it has shown them they can do things they didn’t think were possible.
It’s those Eureka moments when a child first learns how to do something on the bike which is so rewarding’ ~ Project Leader.
*Grant Amount refers to Top Up Grant*