With research revealing that since the COVID 19 pandemic almost 40% of disabled people in the UK are less active, sport inclusion charity Access Sport is continuing to work at a community and strategic level to make sport accessible to all.
Reflective of this mission, the build of a new bike track is underway in Salford is designed to utilise the power of sport to create positive change for the community, including its vulnerable young people.
Being built with support from Access Sport, The London Marathon Charitable Trust, Places to Ride, Salford City Council and Little Hulton Big Local, the project is designed to meet the needs of the community, which has higher-than-average rates of physical inactivity, with 34% of children physically inactive in Salford, comparative to the country’s 24% average.
Providing a safe, off-road facility for people to enjoy learning to ride, the track will help Salford’s children become more confident cyclists.
In addition, with a higher-than-average proportion of children with special educational needs and disabilities in the area, the track will provide an amazing facility for all, becoming home to an inclusive cycling club run by local volunteers.
Whilst all funds required to build the track have been raised, a leisure facility on its own isn’t always enough to engage the people that can benefit the most.
That is why sport inclusion charity, Access Sport, is determined to do more, with support from the local community.
Launching a fundraising appeal, with a goal of raising £15,750, the charity is calling on the community, both in Salford and nationwide, to help raise funds to enable more young disabled people to benefit from all the track has to offer.
With Little Hulton, where the track is based, home to a young population with an above average proportion of children aged 0-19, and an estimated 7,500 children and young people across the city with a long-term illness or disability, with a further 3,500 for whom their disability is life-limiting, the track is of vital importance, says the charity.
What’s more, Access Sport’s partners, The London Marathon Charitable Trust, will match every pound donated, up to a ceiling of £5,000, through their Strategic Partnership Grants Programme – so, any amount contributed is effectively worth double.
Running a 10-week programme with specialist qualified Level 2 BMX cycling coaches and providing access to tuition, bikes and equipment, disabled young people will gain the confidence to get out and ride a bike.
The funds raised will enable 150 young people to learn cycling skills that will last a lifetime.
“Raising these funds is not simply about enabling us to help young people improve their cycling skills,” says Joe McTague from Access Sport.
“There’s so much more to be gained. The benefits of being active are clear, and for too long, people with the most to gain have been the least active.
“Not only will our programme help young, disabled people increase their activity, it will also enable them to gain the confidence to try something new and increase their sense of independence, all whilst enjoying an opportunity to get outside and join in.
“What’s more, the programme will provide an opportunity for these individuals to meet new people and make friends, developing important communication and teamwork skills, this truly goes beyond biking alone!”
Shanaze Reade, former BMX World Champion and Access Sport Ambassador, says the track is going to make such a big difference to locals.
“It’s been a really tough time for so many people and having this facility on the doorstep is going to mean kids – and anyone really – can get out and have somewhere safe to go on a bike,” says Shanaze.
Alison Jones, development manager Little Hulton Big Local, says: “As a resident lead organisation, time and time again we heard that our young people wanted something bikeable or skateable in the park.
“We are very happy that their ideas have been heard and that we will have an amazing bike track on Peel Park, Little Hulton.
“We want all young people to be able to use the track including those with disabilities.”
To find out more and make a donation, visit crowdfunder.co.uk/cycling-for-salford.