Last year we announced we were going to be working with the charity Special Olympics Great Britain to help them launch their first ever cycling programme. Our customers have been donating money by rounding up purchases they make online, and we were really excited when we heard that the first sessions are now ready to start.
Special Olympics GB work hard to take sport to people who might otherwise not have a chance to take part, and they offer a clear pathway for budding athletes. They run programmes for loads of different sports, and athletes can take their hobbies to any level, from enjoying taking part, to competing at European and National level. And of course, the charity makes sure athletes have a clear goal, by holding their own Special Olympics events.
This ‘Learn to Ride’ programme supported by Evans Cycles is the first cycling specific course offered by Special Olympics GB, and sessions are being launched at already established centres for cyclists with disabilities in Crawley, Kent and Surrey.
It’s early days, and coaches will be offering ‘Learn to Ride’ sessions, where those taking part will be taught the basic skills of riding, before progressing towards recreational riding and competition.
Andy Heffer from Special Olympics GB has been getting involved with the launch, and explained:“The courses won’t have a start and a finished date. It might take one person a matter of weeks to learn to ride un-aided, but could take another person much longer. We need to be flexible and cater for individual needs.
At the centres where the Special Olympics GB programmes will be offered, many physically disabled riders use tricylces and modified bikes. Andy said that though trikes would be available to riders who needed them, Special Olympics GB wanted to focus on getting as many participants on two wheels as possible.
For those that really take to the sport, there will be a goal to aim for, as Special Olmpics have announced their National Cycle Competition in Thameside on the 27th and 28th of July. Tom O’Hara volunteers for Special Olympics GB and is heavily involved.
Tom told us, “We first want to provide instruction to teach people with a disability to learn to ride a bike. We will then focus on improving the riding skills of existing riders with the view of providing more independence.”
Once riders are confident and progressing, he said they would be encouraged to compete: “We want to see riders become athletes and join the Special Olympics sporting pathway thereby providing the opportunity for cyclist to compete at a range of competition levels from local, regional, National, European and World.”
We’re very grateful to everyone who has donated already, and we are extreemly excited to see how the programme develops, so we’ll be posting an update once the first sessions have begun – so look out for more news soon.