Cycling For All At Salt Ayre Cog Set
For the uninitiated, working with youngsters with a disability can be a daunting task but as the coaches at Salt Ayre Cog Set are proving, the rewards are clear to see.
The Lancaster based Go-Ride club has been working closely with pupils, parents and teachers from nearby Loyne Specialist School with the shared goal of offering pupils the opportunity to experience the thrill of riding a bike in a safe, comfortable and fun environment.
For both, the eventual aim was that one day the youngsters would be able to join the existing regular coaching sessions with their mainstream peers from Salt Ayre and earlier this month, that objective was realised.
Four pupils from Loyne joined over 50 young children in attending one of the club's Saturday morning open club sessions and for Paul Andrews - a club coach and the main catalyst behind the project - it was an important day for all involved.
"I thought it went very well and the youngsters very much enjoyed it. It was great to see so many youngsters taking part in the sessions and really getting a lot out of the activities. Feedback from their parents has been nothing but positive so it was just great to see the work over the last few months pay off."
The staff at Loyne are aware of the rewards better than most, working daily with over 150 youngsters - between the age of 2 and 19 - each with the unique challenges that a wide spectrum of disabilities can provide.
Getting the children to the point where they can join in with the regular sessions has been a process dating back a few months as Barbara Bradbury, Deputy Head at Loyne Specialist School, explained.
"One of the more recent developments was that we applied for some funding from ‘Aiming High', which is designed for short breaks for families of disabled people. From there we put on various weekend activities with Paul Andrews and his skills on working with children became known to us quite quickly.
"What that really enabled us to do was identify youngsters who we felt could fit into the Salt Ayre Cog Set sessions. I think because the children are enjoying it, behaving well and are motivated to do it, their enthusiasm is quite infectious and that helps staff and parents to relax and enjoy and have fun together."
A handful of youngsters were selected for the initial trial programme, but the hope from both Paul and Barbara is that this is something that will develop over time. To support this, a collection of adapted bikes has been made available to ensure the sessions are open to all, which is the key for all involved.
"We are trying to incorporate Salt Ayre Cog Set, which is already a British Cycling Go-Ride club, to include some of the youngsters with disabilities," he added. "So rather than have a separate club, it would actually be an open, integrated club to all.
Further photos from the session can be seen on the Hub's Facebook page
"All in all, it was very successful and it is something we would very much like to see repeated although it is still a development programme in progress and there are areas we need to work on to ensure the kids, parents and coaches alike are all comfortable and happy to continue.
"We are really trying to make strides and do some positive work around working with children with disabilities and sessions like this strengthen my belief that it is something we can do."
Overcoming the challenges of integrating youngsters with disabilities has not always been easy for volunteers at Salt Ayre, but they have proved that the barriers can be overcome to great effect.
For those keen to develop their skills when working with children with disabilities, British Cycling already has a workshop in place for qualified Level 2 Coaches, while qualified Bikeability Instructors now have a new course available to them.
The Inclusive Cycle Training: Disability workshop is a one-day course that helps to ensure cycle training sessions are inclusive to all riders, through classroom based activities and outdoor practical sessions.
Click here for further details or contact the Cycle Training team directly:
Phone: 0161 274 2128