It's Snow Problem at Crossroads
Gateshead Crossroads Young Carers had selected a small group of young people who had not yet been able to access their Bike Cub project for the session on Saturday. The young people have different caring responsibilities at home which have limited their opportunities to learn to ride a bike. In addition, some of them have reported low self confidence as another barrier to them taking up riding.
What better opportunity for me to tandem my way up there with Activity Worker Christine Archer, to share some activities and skills games designed to boost the abilities and confidence of new cyclists.
Breaking down the elements that go into riding a bike; steering, balance, pedalling and braking; makes it easier for young people to progress quickly. Some basic bike checks a quick game of musical bikes (getting on and off to music) warmed us up nicely. Then it was out to brave the cold- the mercury creeping just high enough to keep the playground ice-free. Outside we kept busy, never standing still long enough to feel the cold. By the time a welcome lunch was ready we were able to progress onto some of the practical skills needed to make a local journey.
The afternoon's highlights included a fantastic game of "Guess The Animal" where a backwards glance from a rider reveals a leader doing a convincing animal impersonation. Thanks must go in particular to John, a young carer who led the game. His animal impressions for fellow cyclists had us all laughing, especially the pursuing horse and scary gorilla!
Eventually the encroaching snow chased us all inside, where the young people managed to fix a puncture by themselves, despite never having done so before. Again great leadership was shown by John.
All in all a fantastic session at an ambitious bike club which gives young carers opportunities too easy to miss when looking out for a parent, sibling, or relative. The confidence and enthusiasm of the young people visibly increased as the session went on. The experience of trying something new and succeeding was a great boost for them.
"I can't ride a bike." protested one young person at the start of the session. "No," I corrected gently. "You can't ride a bike... yet."