Hundreds of pre-school children in Portadown will be given learn-to-cycle training as part of a campaign to improve skills and help them get more active.
Blossom SureStart has become the first centre in Northern Ireland to secure funding from the Southern Trust to purchase ‘Balanaceability’ bikes and equipment.
Six staff will receive dedicated training, providing them with the knowledge and skills to deliver the Balanceability learn-to-cycle course to children as young as three years-old.
“Obesity in children is a big issue and one of the key ways of meeting this challenge head-on is to make sure they are more active. This can reduce health risks, as well as improving motor skills and academic performance,” explained Samantha Wright, sales manager at Balanceability.
“Riding your bike is fun and brilliant for keeping fit. The sooner we can get more young people to embrace it the better and this programme – with Blossom SureStart – could be a blueprint for other centres to follow.”
She continued: “Pre-schoolers from across the area now have the chance to train on special 12” Balanceability bikes as part of our course. This will build their core strengths and motor neurone skills.”
Balanceability has been specially designed with child development experts and cycling professionals so that all children have the opportunity to learn to ride a bike.
It is the only formally approved learn-to-cycle programme for very young children by the Association for Physical Education (afPE) and, since its launch in 2008, has helped more than 500,000 children learn to ride a bike.
After the initial training course, Blossom SureStart staff will be able to help children develop static and dynamic balance, how to pick up and manoeuvre a bike, how to glide and safely stop.
Blossom SureStart’s Keith McAdam added his support.
He said: “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to get our pre-schoolers out and active. Balanceability certainly provides us with that opportunity.”
TTC Group acquired Balanceability in 2014 as part of ambitions to expand its training into new specialist areas and underlining its commitment to improving road safety amongst younger, vulnerable road users.
In the five years that have followed, the company has steadily grown its coverage across the UK, winning contracts to supply balance bikes, resources and equipment to the general public, local authorities, schools and other public sector bodies.
Samantha concluded: “Blossom SureStart is leading the way and will hopefully prove that this type of programme can be successfully rolled out to other centres across Northern Ireland.”
For further information, visit https://www.balanceability.com/ or follow @balanceability on Twitter.