Trail Leader Training In South Cumbria 31/01/2011Posted by Damian Bonsall in Cumbria.
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At the end of last year I talked to the two Extended Services Co-ordinators in South Cumbria about how we could make thier activity more sustainable. They put on a great programme during 2010 but it relied heavily on bought in expertise.
We decided to host a Trail Leader course and invite local schools to send volunteers who could gain a qualification and then take young people out on biking adventures.
We met on Friday evening and after a welcome and introductions, we completed some classroom work, covering essential knowledge, including risk assessments, equipment selection and ride planning.
The following morning, we completed a skills assessment in the playground and then, after a thorough bike check and a final briefing we set of on a 10 mile ride to practise the skills of leading young people on bike rides in this fabulous area.
The route took us on a variety of terrain including road and open hill side and provided lots of opportunities to try out essential skills such as trail side maintenance, navigation and group management.
At the end of the first day, we returned to base and the course delegates reflected on what they had learned during the day. They then went through some further skills sessions, such as indexing gears and splitting chains before starting to plan the following days ride which they would lead in sections.
The preparation included route planning, checking the weather forecast and covering emergency procedures. The first days route would be follwed in reverse with each delegate being assessed for the Award on the section they lead. The individuals were responsible for navigation, group management and any incidents which might occur.
It was great to see the learning from day one being practised in the various leadership situations and just to make the whole thing more interesting, various scenarios were introduced such as a hypothermia case, a broken chain and a missing rider.
When we returned to base on Sunday evening, it was the end of an exhausting but thoroughly enjoyable ride. All the delegates passed and were awarded Trail Leader status. They all agreed that they had a fantastic weekend and learnt a great deal about leading rides. Iam looking forward to working with them now to plan some great biking activity for the young people of South Cumbria over the summer months.
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Amid current concerns that the costs of after-school activities are too expensive for many families, Bike Club is successfully making out-of-school-hours activities more accessible through a series of small grants and the assistance of expert advisors.
A recent YouGov survey for Save the Children indicated that almost two-thirds of 4-18-year-olds are unable to take part in after-school activities because their parents can’t afford the cost.
Bike Club is supporting and funding non-formal learning projects, many of them at little or no cost to parents. A year into its programme, Bike Club has distributed nearly £150,000 among 86 groups and clubs, with a further 44 applications currently being considered.
Range of activities
This funding has enabled many children to gain more affordable, sometimes free, access to the experiences provided through a range of cycling-based activities. Some Bike Club-funded groups focus on Bikeability cycle training, others have provided maintenance training; while some concentrate predominantly on encouraging inclusion among young people less likely to be involved in cycling, such as teenage girls, disabled young people, children from minority ethnic groups or those from deprived areas.
Cycling benefits lives
Bike Club national manager Sarah Troke says: “It is important that worthwhile learning experiences are not limited to those whose parents can afford them. Cycling offers so many positive benefits to people’s lives, like increased fitness, independence, confidence and reduced risk of obesity”. We’re very pleased to be making a range of activities available to thousands of children and young people, encouraginge learning, health and leadership.”
At Milnthorpe in Cumbria a group of rural schools, providing after-school activities as part of an ‘extended services cluster’, have been assisted through Bike Club funding. Children have been able to experience after-school learning through activities like escorted bike rides, cycle maintenance sessions, and cycling skills sessions. Parents are encouraged to participate too, many of them making huge improvements in their confidence and experience of cycling.
Sarah Troke is keen to stress that if it were not for the support of Bike Club, many of these young people would miss out on character-building experiences outside the school curriculum.
Bike Club is expanding
Bike Club is expanding rapidly, as more projects are set up with the support of funding from supermarket chain Asda. The programme’s initial funding has been provided by Cycling England and the Department for Transport. Bike Club is run by a consortium of three charities: UK Youth, ContinYou and CTC – the national cyclists’ organisation.
For more information or an interview, contact Clive Andrews on 07717 721511 or email@example.com
This information is also downloadable as a Word.doc press release: Bike Club funds learning as parents struggle to afford after-school activities
Milnthorpe Family Cycling – Cumbria 04/05/2010Posted by Damian Bonsall in Cumbria.
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The Milnthorpe Extended Services Cluster consists of ten primary schools and a high school in rural south Cumbria. The cluster provides out of school activities for pupils and their families.
Last year, the cluster had some involvement with the Three Counties Challenge – a cycling sportive event which is organised by the local Rotary club to raise monies for its charities. There is a 120 mile ride, a 60 mile ride and a 25 mile family ride. A few families took part in the shorter ride and there was involvement in marshalling and providing refreshment.
From this involvement was born the idea to provide some cycling activities as part of the extended services offer. A Bike Club was formed and a programme of activities devised that would attract local families and culminate in them taking part in the family ride at the Three Counties Challenge in early July.
Examples of activities include Doctor Bike maintenance sessions, family cycle skills, learn to cycle sessions, bike to school days and escorted bike rides. A full and varied menu of activity is on offer to the cluster and many families have taken advantage of it.
Last week I visited one of the schools in the cluster – Arnside Church of England Primary School. They had previously had a Doctor Bike session from a local mechanic to make sure all the bikes were up to scratch and last week they enjoyed a family bike skills session straight after school. It was great to see 20 children and their parents brushing up their skills in their school playground. There were slow bike races, negotiating obstacles in the form of plastic cones and games of ‘Simon Says’ to include riding with only one hand and looking over the shoulder.
Family Cycling in South Lakeland 02/02/2010Posted by Damian Bonsall in Cumbria.
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One of the first enquiries that Bike Club received was from an extended services cluster based around Milnthorpe in South Lakeland.
The Extended Services Cluster Manager for Milnthorpe area, Angela Franklin, decided that cycling was an ideal activity for family learning and she had the idea of offering various cycling related activities culminating in the chance to take part in the Three Counties Challenge ride in July. I was delighted to support her application to become one of the very first Bike Clubs because of the opportunity it presents for whole families to enjoy healthy exercise and to learn new skills. Young people between 10 and 20 years old can of course take a leadership role in planning, organising and helping to lead the activities.
The extended services concept is about offering opportunities to communities using school premises and resources outside of normal school hours for informal learning. It is a government initiative which has been running since 2005 and has some really exciting links to Bike Club’s objectives and ambitions. One of Bike Club’s key partners, ContinYou, are experts in the whole field of extended services.
The Milnthorpe extended services cluster consists of eight rural primary schools and Dallam High School. The project will be a partnership between a range of organisations including the police, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Tourism, Kent Valley Road Club and Bike Club. I am really looking forward to working in partnership with these organisations and to seeing the success of the initiatives as the summer unwinds.
The menu of activities is to include teaching under fives to ride without stabilisers, a bike to school day, family cycle skills sessions, bike maintenance sessions and a trip to Manchester Velodrome to try out track cycling. Training will be offered to willing volunteers to become ride leaders so that the project is sustainable in future years.
It is great to be finally seeing a Bike Club project get of the ground and I look forward to blogging about the fun we’ll be having getting ready for the Three Counties Challenge.