Inspiring adults with learning disabilities in Leeds

Cycling helps to re-enregise the riders
Care homes run by Leeds City Council bring their clients to Adapted Cycling sessions to give them better access to activities within the community. Cycling not only helps to keep them fit but it also helps them to relax.

Over the last few years, Leeds City Council Social Care has been bringing its clients to the Leeds Adapted Cycling sessions at the John Charles Centre for Sport. The participants, who are adults aged 18-70 with a range of learning disabilities, come from three care homes around the city.

Over the last six months, a new group has been coming to the centre, which is part of the National Inclusive Cycling Network. The social care support workers with these participants told Cycling UK they have already see an impact.

David Johnson, Social Care Lead Support Worker for Leeds City Council, said: “Cycling re-energises the riders and gives them a buzz; it's an adrenaline rush really. If they’re having a bad day they can work it off and it makes them more relaxed.”

These sessions can free people in a wheelchair. One of our clients enjoys coming here because he can cycle on his own using one of the hand cycles.

David Johnson, Social Care Lead Support Worker for Leeds City Council

Cycling isn’t the only type of activity they do every week. The group do yoga, bowling, dancing, and go to the gym as part of an initiative to allow those with special educational needs have access to services and activities in the community. The clients clearly enjoy doing all sorts of activities, but it is the cycling that specifically makes a difference. David Johnson explained: “There is a bike here that they can all have a go on, even riding side by side with each other. These sessions free people in a wheelchair. One of our clients enjoys coming here because he can cycle on his own using one of the hand cycles.”

The group arrive every week - except when the weather is bad - with smiles on their faces. It’s a place where they can meet new people. One client with learning disabilities explained why he likes to come to the cycle centre. “I come here on Tuesdays. I meet friends and shake hands with people.” His favourite cycle is the trike with a basket and he likes to ride it fast around the track. Another regular client said how, “cycling is nice and relaxing - it's a nice feeling”.

Although cycling provides physical exercise for the group, it is clear that the benefits go beyond that. Gavin Wood, Cycling UK's Inclusive Cycling Officer said: “They really enjoy trying out all of the different cycles, going around the track sometimes together on the tandems. It’s an activity where they can be free, release tension and meet new people.”

Leeds Adapted Cycling at the John Charles Centres for Sport 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. For more information about inclusive cycling in the North East please contact Cycling UK Inclusive Cycling Officer Gavin Wood