Highland Cycle Ability Centre
A story by Watermill Foundation Ltd
The Highland Cycle Ability Centre provided a safe, secure, peaceful and traffic-free environment for disabled children and young people and their peers to enjoy cycling sessions.
There was also the addition of the new adventure track, this has encouraged everyone to explore their own independence and exposure to new things.
What Highland Cycle Ability Centre did
This project provides a facility to allow our primary customer base accompanied by their carers the opportunity to visit the centre where we are able to provide a period of respite to the carers away from their normal routines. We also provided activities across Scotland where we were able to provide the same level of breaks to carers and in most cases the primary customers families.
Primarily activities were delivered at the Highland Cycle Ability Centre, however the demand for Outreach activities were beyond planned expectations and we were able to deliver across the Highlands of Scotland, pushing out East to Aberdeen, South to Stirling, The Western Isles and North to Shetland., the trend for this demand has continued based upon our successes from the last reporting year.
We were able to deliver activities that allowed the carers and families including siblings of our primary customer base, we ensured that we provide an inclusive operation and do not exclude any willing participant. To ensure the success of our project we have collaborated with other groups including Scottish Cycling, Big Bike Revival, (Dis)Ability Shetland, SNAP, SOAR, LGOWIT, Active Schools Group and local schools.
We were able to deliver to all of the Better Breaks priority Areas. The resounding success for this project was the delivery of activities in Shetland. This was the result of collaborative working with other groups; it was the first such visit to the Islands and tied in with other cycling activities that were planned. Our inclusion allowed for people to ride bikes with their families for the first time and also allowed families to relax and step away whilst activities were being conducted and go and enjoy the festivities of the day.
"Best thing that has happened to support disabled people on the Island" PP Shetland Islands resident.
In a way our project didn't go to plan as it far exceeded what we were expecting, all elements were completed, but as a larger project.
What Watermill Foundation Ltd has learned
Our outreach programme to Shetland was born through excellent communication through ourselves and like minded community support groups on the islands.
these new contacts, which included (Dis)Ability Shetland and Cycling UK were able to provide excellent promotion to target the families most in need of support and bringing them into the fold of the programme.
The main challenges continue to be the prospect of loss of longer term funding, and having to rely on the generosity of charitable donor trusts.
How Watermill Foundation Ltd has benefitted from the funding
This project has allowed us to strengthen our organisations reputation to deliver cycling activities across Scotland, which includes the addition of the Northern Isles and consolidation of our footprint we already had in the Western Isles. Ultimately this has expanded our services to be able to reach out to new groups.
The enjoyment and numbers of those who have achieved Outcome 1 through the activities of Highland Cycle Ability Centre which include having fun, developing, and /or cementing friendships as well as cycling.
We achieved this outcome through the successful delivery of cycling activities. It allowed our primary customer base the opportunity to develop better social skills in a new environment whilst meeting new people. It created an inclusive setting for all participants and ultimately will have improved their quality of life.
A new client arrived at Highland Cycle Ability Centre with their family. Initially the parents were quite fixed in their thought process that their daughter would be unable to ride a bicycle due to limitations of her disabilities. Through a period of 1 to 1 coaching from staff the daughter was slowly introduced to accompanied bicycle riding utilising some of the more access friendly bikes we have. These sessions of being coached continued for a period until such times as the young lady, who had been accompanied by her brother, on a two wheeled bicycle, felt encouraged to try riding one of the trikes so as to feel a new level of independence.
Carers of children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 or under) will have more opportunity to enjoy life outside of their caring role.
We have continued to provide a safe, secure and non-judgemental space for people of all abilities, focused primarily on those with a disability to continue using the centre on a regular basis. We ensure that all our clients are given every opportunity to fully exploit what we have to offer, be it the use of the grounds and any other activity we are able to provide. We also provide the opportunity to allow carers to visit the centre away from their working day and to enjoy what we offer with their families.
A family with 2 boys have been attending the centre over the last few months. Both boys are on the autism spectrum in varying degrees, one more so then the other. Through attending the centre and developing a passion for cycling activities both boys are now able to ride a roam (side by side) bicycle together, something that the parents never thought would be possible. This accomplishment now means that the parents are able to spend a period of respite together whislt their sons are spending quality time together.
Carers of children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 or under) will feel better supported to sustain their caring role.
We achieved this outcome through the successful delivery of cycling activities. By providing the safe and secure environment it allowed carers to enjoy being away from their normal surroundings and be in a new place to allow them to not only benefit from the activity themselves, but to meet new people and share new experiences. The outcome was achieved through the positive approach of all people involved in the delivery and the available funding without which the overall success would not have been achieved.
K and E are teenage sisters. Both are autistic and regularly attended the Highland Cycle Ability Centre where they cycled together for up to 90 minutes on a Side-by-Side Quad whilst mum took the opportunity to cycle on a standard bicycle and, also, a recumbent trike. Dad would spend time taking photographs or relaxing and being able to enjoy a period of respite.
Children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 or under) and their carers will have improved well-being.
The Centre welcomed repeat visits from groups such as SNAP Inverness, LGOWIT Invernessy as well as being invited to deliver Outreach sessions across Moray, Highland, and the Islands as a result of word of mouth referrals. Furthermore we had users visit repeatedly throughout the season with carers enjoying a break from the norm with many choosing to watch and, or, participate in a shared activity.
K and C are brothers who attended the Centre on Saturdays throughout the year. K is autistic and particularly enjoyed cycling around the track on a KMX (recumbent trike) whilst his brother chose a standard bike. Mum enjoyed chatting with Centre staff secure in the knowledge that her children were undertaking an activity in a perfectly safe, tranquil environment. Initially reticent to participate due to anxiety having not cycled for many years, Mum eventually joined the boys in a shared activity... “ Thanks for today guys. K & C really enjoyed the different bikes! You even managed to convince me to try the Quad with the boys and it was great fun!!”
Additional project outcome
Availability of programme for outlying areas, e.g. Western Isles, Caithness, Grampian, Highland and further south if requested.
We conducted an outreach to Aberdeen where a food festival was being held. During this outreach we were able to provide a safe and secure activity to allow parents the opportunity to enjoy the festival safe in the knowledge that their children were being cared for.
Additional project outcome
This activity was a huge success as we were able to deliver over 200 cycling opportunities to young people in the Aberdeen area allowing parents to enjoy themsleves.
A large family with a disabled child who were attending the festival were able to set their son up with the assistance of the Highland Cycle Ability Centre staff to attempt cycling activities for the first time. Through coaching and positive encouragement the young boy was able to start riding one of the additional support needs bicycles. This he continued to do so allowing his parents to spend some quality time with their other children and enjoy the festival.