The Henstones – keeping fit and active as a family

Cycling has become a great way for the family to get active
Getting out and being active was a challenge for the Henstone family. All six children have disabilities, so finding something that is suitable isn't easy. But thanks to Cycling4All Shropshire, the family has found a new love for cycling.

The Henstones are a pretty amazing family of eight. Chris and his wife have six children, all of whom have Downs Syndrome, three are also autistic, and two have other health-related issues. All of this makes getting out and doing physical activities together difficult. Being inactive was already starting to take its toll - the two eldest children were overweight and Chris was also starting to feel unfit.

At the start of 2014, Chris took up cycling in order to lose weight and get in shape. Since then, he has cycled over 3,500 miles. However, after receiving a leaflet about the Cycling4All Shropshire activities through the school, he thought these might be something that the whole family could do altogether. With his new found love of cycling, Chris took his family to their first session.

At first, Chris wondered how practical it would be for them to cycle together, and, more importantly, whether the children would enjoy it. However, he need not have worried - it was clear just how much the children got out of it. They spent all the time on the bikes, having fun trying out all the different types of adapted cycles from trikes to quads, and tandems to handcycles.

They just seemed to enjoy the freedom the bikes offered them and loved to cycle around and around, even having a race between them!

Chris Henstones

He added, “It’s great to see your children enjoying an activity especially when you know that it is good for them. It has also been great knowing that an activity is available that is safe and caters for their needs. There are not too many activities that fit the bill and it is wonderful when you find one that does.”

Singing the praises of the cycle centre that helped them, Chris continued: “The efforts of all the volunteers and the charity are really appreciated, and it is hoped that the sessions will continue. As for our family, Cycling4All Shropshire has provided a wonderful opportunity for our children to enjoy a new activity that has so many benefits for them and us.”

Cycling has become a great way for the family to get active, and their new-found love has prompted Chris and his wife to look at options for getting out and about outside of the cycling sessions. In fact, they are looking at purchasing a tandem so they can go out for weekend and holiday rides.

Cycling4All Shropshire is one of over 40 Cycling UK-accredited clubs in the UK are part of the National Inclusive Cycling Network - a partnership between Cycling UK and Cycling Projects, and is funded through the Big Lottery Fund. Case study by Kay Lakin.