The Cycle Friendly Kingussie balance bike partnership

From a developmental point of view it’s hard to think of a better activity for improving a child’s coordination, balance, upper body and leg strength, than riding a bike. And then of course, there are the health and social benefits. With childhood obesity on the rise, focusing on activities like bike riding is more important than ever – burning off those calories while socializing and having fun with friends is the perfect way to keep kids fit!

Riding a bicycle can be an important rite of passage for a child. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘it’s just like riding a bicycle…once you learn, you’ll never forget.’ But for some kids, learning to ride a bike doesn’t come easily. Availability of an appropriate bike, a safe place to learn, and access to skilled tuition can all be major barriers for a child to learn to ride a bike. In order to overcome these barriers, the Cycle Friendly Kingussie (CFK) Balance Bike Partnership was created.

CFK have teamed up with Sustrans, Kingussie High School, Highlife Highland, and Active Schools to create an innovative Balance Bike ‘learn to ride’ programme. Active Schools Coordinator Tina Gibson explains more. ‘The Balance Bikes are excellent, and a great asset to our community. Sustrans arranged for one of their training officers to come up and deliver specialist training to 12 Sport and Recreation students from Kingussie High School, who are now delivering an after schools ‘learn to ride’ programme in all of the 5 cluster primary schools.

The primary children love the balance bikes, and it’s great to see them gradually build their confidence and skill’. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for the High School students and Principal Teacher Ollie Bray is very proud of his students work. ‘The Balance Bike programme is a fantastic opportunity for our Sport and Recreation students to take theoretical learning and turn it into practical experience in a real life setting. It’s great to see the students contributing to the local community; learning to ride a bike will be a life changing experience for some of these children.’

Also on the training course were two teachers from Kingussie Primary School, who are planning to run sessions within the school day. Four High Life Highland Leisure staff also completed the training and they are now developing a programme of activities which will run within the community at the weekends. The Balance Bikes were very quickly put to use after their arrival – Active Schools in partnership with Kingussie High School students and teachers ran Balance Bike ‘come and try’ sessions at this year’s Bikefest Scotland event.

The sessions were hugely popular with children returning time after time to have another go! see the photos and video clip below. For more information on where and when the Balance Bike sessions are running, keep an eye on our Activities page, ‘Like’ us on Facebook, or drop into the Badenoch Centre and have a chat with the staff – they are always happy to help!

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