Campaigners are promoting the benefits of cycling to Glasgow preschoolers thanks to an initiative called Play on Pedals. The campaign hopes to give every four-year-old in the area free cycling lessons and access to bikes before they start school.
Play on Pedals, a partnership project delivered by CTC, Cycling Scotland, Play Scotland and the Glasgow Bike Station, and supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery, has so far seen over 500 participants (including instructors) take part in cycling at nurseries across the city. Over the next two years, the project is set to reach out to a further 7,000 children across Glasgow.
The new Play on Pedals cycling training allows children to explore the playful side of cycling. It includes games focusing on balance, gliding, manoeuvring around obstacles and applying the brakes.
As part of the initiative, local nurseries have also received visits from champion athletes, including triple Paralympic Gold medal winner Aileen McGlynn OBE, who scooped two silver medals at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, and James McCallum, who won Bronze at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.
New relationships between nurseries and community groups are being established to support the programme. They aim to get nursery staff and volunteers themselves on board too, encouraging them to become new cyclists and to get back in the saddle, so they can also demonstrate games and activities to children. Thanks to People's Postcode Lottery players, the programme has created a pool of hundreds of new balance and pedal bikes that are based in community settings for nurseries to access. The first set of these was unveiled at NG Homes in Possilpark last September.
The scheme has been officially recognised as a Community Based Legacy Project by Glasgow City Council. Play on Pedals is supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery and was a awarded £231,957 as a winner of the 2014 People's Postcode Trust Dream Fund.
Play on Pedals Development Officer Polly Jarman said, "Getting on a bike at a young age helps children to develop their spatial awareness and coordination and also gain important confidence and resilience. Our project is helping to make sure more children are able to enjoy the benefits of cycling as they grow and develop.
"Cycling is a great activity, which improves physical and mental wellbeing and gives riders a sense of freedom, independence and fun."
For more information on the Play on Pedals scheme visit their website www.playonpedals.wordpress.com.