A scheme in Hull that gives disabled children the opportunity to take part in cycling has won the inaugural BBC Power of Sport award, backed by Sport England, for East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. This is the first year that the awards have been rolled out across all BBC regions in England.
The Aiming High Inclusive Cycling Scheme provides short breaks, whether an hour or an afternoon, for disabled children, their families and friends and carers, to allow the children, whether alone or with the whole family, to experience cycling in the safe environment of Hull’s East Park.
It was instituted after research found that many disabled children wanted to try cycling, but had never been given the opportunity to do so.
The initiative, launched earlier this year and officially opened in September, is supported by Hull City Council, NHS Hull and the voluntary sector, and is funded by money made available under the government’s Aiming High for Disabled Children programme, which seeks among other goals to bring about a rise in the range of short break services available to families.
The scheme has some 30 bicycles, ranging from standard adult bikes that can be used by family members to specially adapted ones imported from Germany at a cost of £3,000 each, and includes tandems, hand cycles and tricycles.
Hire charges for the bikes, which have been used by some 50 youngsters and their families and carers, and which are available to people from outside the Hull area as well, are £2.50 for a single bike and £5.00 for a family group, while carers go free.
Nigel Richardson, director of children and young people’s services at Hull City Council, said: ”This is a brilliant scheme which is the end product of a large amount of hard work by a large number of people. It emphasises our commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of all children and I'm sure it will go from strength to strength.”
Sue Atkins, assistant head of service for health and wellbeing, added:
”Thanks to all of the people that have made this scheme such a success, in particular the parents from the Hull Parents Forum, the staff at East Hull Park and Simon Berry from KIDS. This scheme has been the result of a strong partnership, all working towards improving positive outcomes for disabled children. We hope to expand the scheme over the next 18 months, allowing even more children and their families to enjoy themselves. A huge thank you to the young people from Frederick Holmes School, who told us they wanted the same opportunities as all children, to go cycling with their friends.”
And Pauline Dumble, head of health and wellbeing at Hull City Council, said: ”This is a scheme that allows children to have fun, enjoy themselves and have a new short break experience, with their friends, as a group or with their families. This is one of seven schemes Hull are developing under Aiming High for Disabled Children, promoting and improving short breaks for disabled children. We are really pleased to have this inclusive cycle scheme in Hull, and hope many children, young people and their families will enjoy themselves and enjoy the benefits of cycling in the park.”
The provision of the specially-adapted bicycles has been welcomed enthusiastically by youngsters benefiting from the scheme. One said, ““I have never been on a bike before and the wheelchair one is great for me because I can’t cycle,” while another added, “park staff helped us cycle around the park, because we did not have enough helpers.”
The initiative has also been applauded by the families of the children involved, with one parent highlighting how it had enabled their child to participate in a family activity that previously they had been excluded from, and expressing pleasure at “having both my sons happy together, enjoying the same activity.”
Another parent also emphasised the inclusiveness promoted by the family aspect, saying it was the “first cycling experience for my son as the bikes were accessible to him, doing a family activity.”
Further information regarding the scheme and how to become a member is available from East Park on 01482 331967 or by emailing eastparkcycles [at] hullcc.gov.uk
Simon Berry, from the charity KIDS, which operates the programme, said: “The scheme offers an opportunity for disabled children and young people to cycle with their mum, dad, brother, sister, carer or friends. The scheme has been operating throughout summer until construction of the new site was completed.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.