New Forest cycling fun for young people with special needs

Published Friday 27 April 2012

Families from SCARF (Supporting Special Children and their Relatives and Friends) are now taking part in monthly inclusive cycling sessions.

Families from SCARF (Supporting Special Children and their Relatives and Friends) are now taking part in monthly inclusive cycling sessions thanks to the help of the New Forest National Park Authority, Cyclexperience and CTC Wessex Cycling.

The monthly sessions take place at Blackwater Arboretum near Brockenhurst and families with children aged from two to 19 years old with a broad range of special needs will have the opportunity to try cycling.

Vicky Myers, Member of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The bikes have been specially adapted to cater for young people with a wide-range of disabilities.

‘By getting out in the fresh air and enjoying the National Park we hope the quality of life and well-being of these young people and their families will be given a real boost.’

A survey in 2010 of visitors and residents showed that around 10% of visitors to the New Forest have a long-term health issue or disability which impacts on their daily activity.

Nicky McGough, Chair of SCARF, said: ‘In our first session 10 families came to try cycling. For some of the families, it was the first time the children had been able to try cycling, and the thrill of achieving something new was great to see. For other families, it opened up areas of the Forest they had not realised were as accessible before.

‘National Park Rangers were on hand to ensure safety, suggest routes, and provide lots of information about the Forest. It can be quite difficult for families of children with special needs to access mainstream leisure and holiday activities, so this is a valuable opportunity for them to take advantage of the lovely surroundings.’

The specially-adapted bikes have been made available thanks to £30,000 from Hampshire County Council’s Aiming High for Disabled Children fund, £5,000 from the National Park Authority and £1,000 from New Forest District Council.

Ross Kempson from Cyclexperience said: ‘We are delighted to be playing our part in raising the profile of the New Forest as an inclusive cycling destination. Cyclexperience hosts the fleet of 10 ‘all ability bikes’ and it’s great to see them being well used by a local group of young people.

‘We are proud to have sponsored these cycling sessions and provide volunteers to help the families ride together,’ said John Jackson from CTC Wessex Cycling, the local branch of the UK’s National Cyclists’ Organisation. ‘As part of the UK’s biggest cycling organisation the CTC is keen to help all areas of the community appreciate the benefits of safe cycling and is delighted to be associated with these events.’

-ends-

Notes to Editors:

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

SCARF (Supporting Special Children and their Relatives and Friends) is a charity based in the New Forest which organise regular social and holiday events for children with special needs and their families. Children are aged 0 -19 and have a range of disabilities and special needs, such as Down’s Syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy. For more information about SCARF visit www.scarfnewforest.org

CTC, the UK’s largest cycling charity*, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone.

  • We provide expert, practical help and advice.
  • We support individuals and communities.
  • We protect cyclists’ interests.
  • We campaign to make cycling mainstream and to remove the things that stop people cycling.
  • We help people develop the confidence and skills to cycle.
  • We promote the benefits of cycling to individuals, to society and to the economy.

For more information about CTC - the UK’s National Cyclists’ Organisation visit www.ctc.org.uk

Media Contact:
Karen Evans-McDaid, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650
Email: karen.evans-mcdaid@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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