Kids step it up a gear and have a wheelie good summer

Learning to ride a bike is a fundamental part of growing up as a child. For the second year running, the partnership between Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s children's therapists and the Watchtree Wheeler, 10 children with additional physical needs are learning or improving upon their ability to ride a bike.

Elizabeth Fowles Mum to Elliot Fowles who took part in the scheme said:

“Elliot could already ride a trike before attending these sessions, but when you put him onto a standard two wheel bike with stabilizers he wouldn’t pedal forwards, he would only pedal backwards.  

“Staff at Watchtree are currently trying to purchase a specially designed bike to aid Elliot’s Development, which we would then purchase to continue Elliot’s progress at home, and we couldn’t be more thankful. Elliot has thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the weekly sessions.

“This scheme is a really great opportunity for children with additional needs to access and feel included in an activity that every child should have the opportunity to experience.”

Claire Allen, Children’s Physiotherapist for Cumbria Partnership NHS FT said:

“This is a really positive piece of work in addition to our daily clinical work.

“It’s really rewarding for us as staff to see the improvements each child makes week to week”.

Ryan Dobson, Access and Recreation Officer for the Watchtree Wheelers, explained how they specialise in providing equipment, training and facilities for all people regardless of ability to access cycling:

“I am a bike enthusiast I want to give all ages and abilities the chance to experience the enjoyment I get from riding a bike. We work with the children to make sure they get the right equipment for their needs.

“The specially designed bike that Elliot needed for example isn’t something that we would normally have on site.  Elliot needed a bike that showed some resistance when peddling backwards, to hopefully encourage him to pedal forward instead.”

10 year old Jack has hypermobility which affects his muscle tone and coordination skills.As a result of the scheme is now confidently riding his bike along like any other child, so much so that he has asked his mum if they can become members of the Watchtree Wheelers. His mum Jackie Watson said:

“Jack was able to ride his bike but not confidently. This scheme has really helped build his self-confidence and self-belief in such a short space of time.

“I was already aware of the fantastic work the trust does within schools as a Head teacher of a primary school, but to witness it first had has been exceptional, I am really grateful.”

A presentation ceremony will be taking place at 11am on Thursday 3rd September at Watchtree Nature Reserve to present each of the children with a certificate of participation.