Highland Cycle Ability Centre
A story by Watermill Foundation
The project was for children and young people with disabilities, mental, physical and learning, together with their carers. At the Highland Cycle Ability Centre, Cawdor, and, through our Outreach programme.
What Highland Cycle Ability Centre did
Cycling for the individual and a break for the carer including socialising with peers, coffee breaks and picnics in extensive 4 acre grounds, appreciation of nature on the traffic free, tarmacadam 1 mile tracks, throughout the year, at Cawdor.
Outreach visits took place in remote and rural locations (west and north Scotland),Shetland, Aberdeen and Moray, throughout the year.
Over 1,200 young people with disabilities, and their carers, participated. Many carers cycled alongside; others relaxed while their cared-for was cycling under supervision.
We make the facilities available to all, therefore choice is not necessary. We introduced special cycles to many, thereby allowing those with disabilities to appreciate being able to participate in normal activities undertaken, by their peers, so, making an important contribution to, not just their physical, but, also, their mental health.
The enthusiasm and joy, the freedom, the independence of those participating is very rewarding to carers and staff alike.
The project went according to plan.
What Watermill Foundation has learned
That there is a very great demand. All could be achieved with adequate funding.
How Watermill Foundation has benefitted from the funding
Yes, and we have been able to demonstrate to others the requirement.
Target: 2,000 minimum annual rides in 12 months, which includes disabled youngsters, and where in attendance, their carers.
In first six months ( See Mid Term Report) number of carers benefitting was 414; number of disabled children/young people was 433. By year end published audited financial accounts showed the track and facilities were used by 1,255 disabled cyclists and 2,401 able cyclists, thus exceeding the target.
R has balance/coordination problems, heart condition and autistic traits. He is ten years old. He progressed quickly from the running bike to two wheeler and was able to cycle unaided after four visits. Since using the track R. requested his own bike for Christmas so he could cycle with his dad, a joint activity they now undertake at the track and also in the local community. Made very welcome by the staff and R, loved his first visit, and loves the choice of bikes. J.R. Kiltarlity (parent)
Carers of disabled children and young people (aged 20 and under) will have more opportunities to enjoy life outside their caring role.
The amount of users and the success of the Outreach programme demonstrates the success of the project outcome, in the number using the facilities, and the special cycles.
In our second visit to Shetland, we saw that the Shetland Council had bought a number of special cycles, such as we had taken on our previous visit. By so doing this allowed many Shetlanders to get the benefits we had shown them previously. This was an unexpected item that made our Outreach all the more worthwhile.
Carers reporting better sleep patterns,and an improved long term impact from the service.
The activity of cycling provides exercise, fresh air, awareness of the countryside, provided the improved well being of both carers and cared-for.
Mrs B. (Croy) writes: The improvement in sleep pattern as a result of the physical exercise has been very noticeable in my son. Thank you, Highland Cycle Ability Centre.
Bookings both on track and for Outreach beyond expectations.
We have opened up, by request of Downs Syndrome Scotland, on one Saturday each month for unpaid carers and their cared-fors, coming from Kintail (Wester Ross) to Nairn. This was never expected.
Additional project outcome
See above: Down Syndrome Scotland, Young Parkinsons Society, St. Duthus Special School, all requesting use of track, both school and holiday time.
Down Syndrome Scotland and St. Duthus having to travel 1 to 2 hours to use facilities not available elsewhere - 27 disabled children all took part.