A Crawley cycling initiative and a local cycle store have teamed up with Special Olympics Great Britain to help more children and adults with learning disabilities to take up the sport.
Wheels for Wellbeing, run by Crawley Borough Council’s Wellbeing Team, proudly signed up to a three-year programme with the charity in June, the first of just five pilot sites to join.
The project is supported and funded by Evans Cycles, Britain’s biggest specialist cycle retailer and whose head office is in the Manor Royal Business District. Evans customers have been kindly donating through Pennies – an electronic charity box.
The Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB) Cycling Development project aims to make cycling more accessible for those with learning disabilities, promote it as a healthy and safe activity and provide the equipment and guidance needed for people to learn and develop their cycling skills.
Karen Wallin, CEO of SOGB, said: “Wheels for All centres are trail blazing for this fantastic cycling project. I would like to thank Evans Cycles for their financial support to make this project possible.”
The project will link local Special Olympics groups and other organisations to offer people the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike, take part in recreational rides and organised events and even cycle competitively in SOGB competitions.
These new opportunities will fit perfectly with the work already started by Wheels for Wellbeing. Started in 2011, the initiative has been helping people with disabilities to get involved in cycling at the inclusive BMX track in Langley Green.
It has a fleet of specially adapted bikes and works closely with a variety of partners including Manor Green College and Sustrans – the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity, which aims to enable more people to travel by foot, bike or public transport.
Alan Heaton, from Crawley Wheels for Wellbeing, said “We only recently started working with SOGB and have already helped a number of participants learn how to ride a bike. Seeing the joy and sense of achievement it gives inspires us to help even more achieve their goal of one day riding a two wheel bike.
“For us now the next exciting steps are to organise monthly recreational bike rides for our participants to join with family and friends, as well as provide cycle coaching for the Special Olympic athletes of tomorrow.”
Cllr Duncan Crow, Cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, said: “It’s fantastic to be involved in a Special Olympics Great Britain programme and the fact that Crawley was the first to sign up demonstrates the hard work being done to make cycling accessible for everyone.
“Wheels for Wellbeing has already seen success over the past few years which can be continued and built upon with the help of this programme and local partners.”
Wheels for Wellbeing is holding a free session for potential new members on Saturday 21 September from 10.30am to 12.30pm at the BMX track in Langley Green.
From 12.30pm to 3.30pm there will also be learn-to-ride and coaching sessions for people with learning disabilities, and groups working with people with learning disabilities, who wish to find out more about the project and how they can sign up.
For more information, and to find out how you could join or volunteer, visit www.crawley.gov.uk/wfw or contact Alan Heaton on 01293 585355 or email@example.com