Play on Pedals, a project funded to enable every preschool child in Glasgow to learn to ride a bike, marked the end of its current funding on Thursday at a celebratory event at the Glasgow Bike Station.
The award-nominated partnership project from Cycling UK, Cycling Scotland, The Glasgow Bike Station and Play Scotland was awarded £232,000 by the People’s Postcode Dream Trust Fund in 2014. It was supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery until December 2016 to enable every preschool child in Glasgow to learn to ride a bike, through the city-wide training and community engagement programme.
Partner organisations, community groups, early years’ establishments, parents, volunteers and children all celebrated Play on Pedals’ achievements at the event. These include reaching 7,148 children, training 364 Instructors in 182 nurseries and funding 35 Hero Organisations to develop the project locally.
Over 260 community events have also been delivered by Play on Pedals across Glasgow since 2014, showing parents and families how fun cycling is and providing a safe and sociable environment for children to learn to ride. Over 550 balance and pedal bikes are now in use across Glasgow thanks to the project, enabling the continued delivery of training and activities for preschool children.
As well as celebrating the project’s achievements, exceptional individuals and groups were recognised with an awards ceremony and children from the nearby Derby Street nursery demonstrated the new skills they have learnt, including balancing, steering, braking and pedalling.
Elaine Kilday, an early years’ worker in Deanpark Nursery, was recognised as an exceptional instructor as she has taught over 90 children to ride a bike. Her group had previously been awarded funding through Play on Pedals as an Early Years Hero Organisation, which has allowed them to purchase more resources and to extend training to more children in the nursery, as well as involving parents and local bike organisations.
Speaking about the programme, Elaine said: “When the children are pedalling, I’m the one that’s running up and down the playground, bouncing about, ecstatic and can’t wait for the parents to come in. You’re almost bursting at the seams for the parents to come in. That’s a feeling that I don’t think I’d experienced before within the nursery.”
As well as being lots of fun, learning to ride a bike is an important life skill. The children that have learned to cycle with Play on Pedals have developed both physically and socially, with changes to their confidence, resilience and interactions with their peers being noted by instructors. Children at Glasgow’s early-years establishments have enjoyed at least eight weeks on the bikes.
Polly Jarman, Play on Pedals Development Officer said: “We are delighted to have reached so many children over the duration of Play on Pedals; we’ve worked really hard to deliver high quality training and to provide lots of fun opportunities for children to get involved, so we are over the moon to have achieved our dream. It’s been a huge but massively rewarding challenge, and we want to thank the groups and individuals across the city who have supported the project and helped us to enable every preschool child in Glasgow to ride a bike.”
Although the funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery has now come to a close, Play on Pedals plans to continue. Chris Johnston from Cycling Scotland explained: “The Play on Pedals partner organisations are extremely grateful to the People’s Postcode Lottery for their support over the past two and a half years and we thank this funder for believing in our dream. The success of Play on Pedals will continue with funding from Glasgow City Council as part of the newly formed Glasgow Community Cycle Network, so that the project can continue to deliver events and opportunities. Cycling Scotland has also received funding from Transport Scotland to roll out Play on Pedals training to more nurseries across 21 local authorities, so we’re really excited about teaching thousands more pre-school children across Scotland to learn to ride a bike.”