“People who don’t have a young person with a disability find it hard to understandwhat an outing like this can mean to a child like Ben. It’s the best thing we've found for our son” – Ben’s mum
The Alpkit Foundation is not all about big funding, its being able to offer help for what may at first seem like simple things, such as facilitating being able to provide free of charge activities for those who would otherwise struggle to access that experience. Last year the Alpkit Foundation helped support Life Cycle UK offer 8 blind and visually impaired school children the opportunity to go on a day out tandem cycling and getting stuck into some bushcraft activities.
We caught up with Ed from Life Cycle UK who let us know how the day went.
“Thanks to your donation we were able to host guest ride leader - Bushcraft expert, Rachel Tomlinson, which meant we could offer the places free of charge to the children…”
Ed sums up what can be achieved with an award such as this.
“Rachel led eight young blind/visually impaired ‘back riders’ into Warmley Woods for crafts and games using the things they found around them. Leaf printing and making kazoos from hazel and grasses were followed by a campfire picnic, then woodland games of Smite and Quoits. They then enjoyed the gentle tandem ride back with their volunteer ‘front riders’.
Both the riders and their parents told us how great the day was – both in terms of enjoying the sensory experience of being in the woods, and learning new skills with guidance from Rachel. It is days out like these that enable young people to feel free from their disability and experience the joys of cycling and nature:
“My daughter thoroughly enjoyed the ride and activities. The chatter was good and so helpful in building confidence. She is looking forward to the next ride” – Aziza’s mum (all names have been changed)
It is absolutely wonderful to hear how something that can seem so simple can have such a big impact on someones life.
“The children that engage with our tandem project often feel isolated and lack confidence as a result of having few opportunities to take part in ‘normal’ fun activities that other kids enjoy.
Throughout the day our volunteers and ride leaders noticed a real change in the behaviour of the young back riders – with gentle encouragement and guidance they settled into the ride, began to pedal faster, and started to chat and laugh with the able bodied ‘front riders’. They were eager to get involved in the group activities and happily participated in the games. By the end of the day the children were excited to tell their families about the things they had experienced and to take their keepsakes home.
They were eager for another such ride, and we hope to be able to offer this in 2018.
Of course it is not just the young people who benefit: Parents tell us how difficult it is to find fun and engaging activities for the children that do not cost the earth, and involve getting out into nature in a straightforward, accessible way”
It sounds like an amazing day and one that really hits home the benefits that can be gained, even by just a day, getting immersed in the outdoors.
“The project was extremely successful. The ride was fully subscribed and we had excellent feedback from the children and their parents. Our volunteer ‘front-riders’ said how good it was to do something ‘a bit different’, whilst the young people could learn new skills and find out about the woodland they rode through.
“Eloise really enjoyed the ride. Without it she would not be experiencing bike rides and all the sensations involved withthem. This is one of the few activities Eloise can access and feel good at doing which is fabulous for her self-esteem and also her fitness” – Eloise’s Dad
All of the young riders who attended have continued to engage with our project, and we have seen them flourish over the last eight months:
“We have noticed his independence growing month by month. Chatting to people and feeling part of a group that is not school based is vital” – Nathan’s mum
"On behalf of everyone at Life Cycle - and the young people who attend this ride - please accept our sincere thanks for your support. As you can see, your funding enabled us to help eight blind/visually impaired young people to feel free from their disability and enjoy playing games and taking exercise in nature."