Overview of Project
Dundee is unique in that it is the first city in Scotland to have a Scottish Cycling Level 1 Centre within one of its urban parks.
The L1 Centre is managed by Angus Cycle Hub and, through an innovative agreement, can be utilised by partners such as Dundee Active Schools, Ancrum Outdoor Centre, Duke of Edinburgh Award, Scottish Cycling and Dundee Family Support Team.
Our project engaged young leaders from secondary schools and Dundee/Angus College and provided them with training, mentoring and a British Cycling L1 Mountain Bike Leader governing body qualification. It provided opportunities for the new leaders to gain experience and learn best practice whilst delivering mountain bike after school clubs and holiday programmes to children and young people who participated in led mountain bike rides.
These led rides were targeted towards children and young people who would benefit the most from developing their bike skills and the outdoor experience, as identified by our partners.
Key Statistics from Programme
- 380 FREE Participant Sessions
- 35 MTB Qualifications for Young People
- 23 New MTB Volunteers
- NEW Level 1 Accredited Centre
Background to the Project
The delivery of the pilot focussed on a combination of holiday camps and after school taster sessions. All of these proved hugely popular with young people in Dundee with over 350 participant sessions in schools and both holiday programmes oversubscribed.
Part of the focus was to engage with young people from areas in the city identified as being in the lowest quartile in the index of multiple deprivation.
Researchers from Edinburgh Napier University collected impact data on the pilot study which focused on participation in the context of social inclusion, using mountain biking as a vehicle to engage young people to develop psychological wellbeing.
The evaluation framework was based around a pre-post design focussing quantitatively on measures of well-being and efficacy in the participants and qualitatively on the perceptions and experiences of carers and volunteer leaders.
The research was unequivocal in the need to continue developing projects targeted at young people in the most deprived areas. The researcher interviewed several children involved in the programme and revealed a number of positive themes: enjoyment, learning new skills, being able to socialise with new people, make friends and be active. Interviews indicated a very high degree of satisfaction and enjoyment from the programme.
The children involved in the programme are essentially happy and presenting with a high degree of psychological well-being, being part of the programme accentuated this, through opportunities for skills learning and social connectedness.
Challenges to the Project
Date co-ordination – a strength of the project was the number of partners who were engaged and helping to support however one of the more unexpected challenges faced by the project was trying to co-ordinate dates when key individuals were available.
Whilst there are many benefits to the location of the project – see project successes – there was a challenge that no one partner was based from the centre. This meant that things needing to be resolved were not always ‘in the face’ of any of the partners – leading to longer than expected delays in things getting sorted at the centre.
Funding & Capacity of partners – It is a challenging funding landscape and the lack of stability affects projects such as this. With most partners, and individuals, each facing funding threats through the lifespan of this project it is hard to maintain focus on small, but very beneficial, projects when individuals jobs are at risk.
Short time windows for after school MTB clubs – With schools finishing daily in Dundee after 3pm and the centre being a half hour walk or requiring a mini-bus to get the children/young people to the centre it became very apparent that due to darkness and weather there were only two terms to run after school clubs from the centre – Term 1 and Term 4. Term 1 has challenges as it is a short term of only 6 weeks and, often, clubs can’t start till a couple of weeks in – to give time to hand out consent forms, organise teacher support etc – this leaves only 3-4 weeks to run activity. Term 4 is very busy in both primary and secondary schools which means it can be hard to run after school activities.
Successes of Project
The enthusiasm of young people for mountain biking – all of the sessions were fully booked. So, there was an obvious demand for low-cost led sessions with equipment supplied. Most of the attendees were from SIMD areas and would not have the opportunity to participate in a sport they, obviously, wish to without these types of supported projects.
New young volunteers – There was a great deal of enthusiasm from young people, particularly coming from the 2 community-based projects - Angus Cycle Hub and Discovery Junior Cycle Club, to volunteer to help others experience the joy of mountain biking.
Participant sessions – The number of participant sessions reached by the project was higher than anticipated. This was partly due to the enthusiasm of young people to participate in mountain biking activity but also due to the strength of partners working together to promote and enthuse young people to attend the sessions.
Easy and accessible non-intimidating venue – research on the initial pilot of the project, preceding this young roots programme, indicated that the children and young people attending the sessions felt very comfortable going to mountain bike sessions in a park they knew well. The location next to a well-used playpark meant that participants did not feel any level of intimidation in attending the sessions. For mountain biking to continue to grow it is important that the sport can take place in city and country parks where participants feel comfortable attending and not only at purpose-built trail centres.
Whilst the funding from the National Lottery Young Roots fund has now ended the partners involved are keen to continue to deliver mountain biking to children and young people, particularly those who wouldn’t be able to afford to participate without equipment and instruction being included.
The partners are currently investigating future additional funding and are keen to run holiday camps and, potentially, sessions for a fee to ensure the centre is sustainable. There will continue to be engagement with young people to volunteer and be active in the delivery of future programmes. A key partner, Angus Cycle Hub, have just been awarded the contract and have opened the Dundee Cycle Hub and will be developing programmes in Dundee. We have also been using the centre for our Trail Therapy programme.
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