A story by Fabb Scotland
We delivered adaptive bike sessions for disabled communities across Scotland promoting all-inclusive cycling to young people with disabilities and additional support needs.
Bike buddies, support staff, trained staff and volunteers took part in, Cycling Scotland’s accredited Group Cycle Ride Leader in preparation for more sustainable services.
What Blazing Saddles did
By increasing the hours of our Project Development Officer we co-ordinated, developed and delivered:
11 weekly one hour cycling activities using adaptive bikes during 2015 for 10 disabled participants per session. All learning to ride or improve bike skills and progress to more sustainable cycling activities.These were delivered at Falkirk, Broxburn, Bells Sports Centre North Inch Perth and West Links Promenade Saltire Leisure Centre, Arbroath.
4 promotional events across Scotland, including attendance at and participation in Scottish Disability Sport’s Celebration of Para-sports at Strathclyde Country Park, Cycling Scotland’s Falkirk Study Tour attended by 2 Directors and Chief Executive of Cycling Scotland, local all-inclusive hub launch event attended by the Transport Minister at Bangholm Outdoor Education Centre, Edinburgh. 2 x Group Cycle Ride Leader training courses using Blazing Saddles’ All-inclusive bikes for 16 support staff and volunteers at the Trossachs Tryst Callander.
These events were advertised and promoted through local partners and those delivering the events and bike sessions. All of the organisations involved have used various types of media coverage including: videos, social media, websites, networking events, steering group meetings, disability newsletters, and annual reports.
All of this work has resulted in parents and carers being able to participate in activities of their choice while young people with disabilities and additional support needs are being provided with cycling programmes and progressing to more fun, exciting and fulfilling activities, leading to more independent futures.
For example, one parent explained that until hearing about these services they had not had a night on their own to enjoy an evening out with friends, another said that while the activities had given them respite it had also highlighted that they could go cycling as a family for the first time in their lives and had booked a weekend away together.
When S started cycling he was able to walk independently but tended to drag his right leg and walk on his toes. S started using the tandem trike requiring feet to be fixed to the pedals and leg supports added. He was initially unable to complete a full rotation of the pedals particularly on one side. With physical assistance and verbal prompting he was gradually able to fully rotate the pedals and propel the trike independently with verbal prompt only. During the sessions he would also use the running bike which has probably helped strengthen his legs, improving his mobility and has certainly given him independence, freedom and increased confidence.
S’s now walks with his heel down and is less inclined to drag his foot. His family and carers have all noted improvements in his mobility.
Client A attended our pilot block of cycling sessions. He had previously ridden a tandem bike supported by his carer, but the opportunities for this were located out of area and were dependant upon having the right carer to support him, so it was a rare treat. During the first block of Blazing Saddles sessions he chose to ride the running bike, which allowed him the opportunity to ride a bike independently for the first time.
Following on from these sessions he received some skill work on an adult balance bike and has since progressed to riding a solo bike all on his own. Without the consistency of sessions and range of bikes we were able to offer afforded only by working in partnership with Blazing Saddles, this gentleman would not have had this local opportunity for exercise and its associated health benefits, social integration, skill development and fun.
As part of this transformation we are engaging with the local community of Callander and submitted an application for a development grant through Cycling Scotland to achieve the Cycling Friendly Community Award. This will not only reduce the number of short car journeys being made in the area but increase the number of hours people will be supporting our target communities to participate in cycling activities. This will begin in May 2016 with our tried and tested Open Bike Nights which recruits and trains volunteer buddies and leaders to support people with disabilities to go cycling.
In addition to this we are developing our Fabb-i-do Themed Activity Weekends to Fabb-i-do Family Workouts where parents, carers, and, young people and children with disabilities will come together to “workout” how they can work together to reduce social isolation and loneliness by providing opportunities for young people and children to take part in activities together while Mum, Dad, Granny and Granddad learn how to “let go” and enjoy a bit of respite in a tranquil and peaceful environment.
Our starting point for this initiative is a Fabb-i-do “Stars In Your Eyes” themed weekend in May and August rehearsing for the International Short Break Association Conference (September 2016) when our children and young people will be telling their stories of how our services provide them with the confidence and self-esteem which makes them who they are and provides their parents and carers with much needed respite.
What Fabb Scotland has learnedFabb Scotland is a “learning by doing” organisation and since Blazing Saddles was launched when the bikes arrived in September 2013 we have learnt:
Providing 6 weekly blocks of 2 x 1 hour bike sessions inspires everyone involved in our project that regular cycling activities can cater for all abilities and has become the catalyst to more sustainable local community cycling hubs across Scotland.
By beginning with disability rather than bolting it on at the end of service provision diversity becomes a natural progression to community involvement and social connectedness.