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A nation of riders; working with schools

Mountain biking is so much more than knobbly tyres and mud. Its whole body movement and coordination, positive risk taking, personal and environmental responsibilty and Leadership. It's getting out into nature, journeying, skills development and a whole lot of mental wellbeing all melding into one amazing cross curricular pastime.

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Why are we doing this?

Fantastic research by NatureScot (formally Scottish Natural Heritage) a few years ago showed that seven in ten, 11-17-year-olds, want to try new outdoor activities. Over half of those stated a preference for adventure-type activities.We know the school environment provides amazing potential for integrating physical activity into children’s mindsets with experiences at school impacting lifelong physical activity practices.

However not all children and young people have the best experience of school PE; sometimes the more traditional, competitive sports just don’t cut the mustard. So for some, an alternative, less competitive, and more sociable form of physical activity can be immensely beneficial; this is where mountain biking can do some incredible stuff.

In an ideal world, schools would have lovely big budgets to put towards mentoring, CPD, and training for teachers to enable them to deliver activities that take kids out of the classroom and into nature, traveling fast or slow depending on the child or young persons needs.

Sadly that is not the reality but if we can inspire young people to embrace physical activity in whatever form works for them, from a young age, then research shows us that they are more likely to carry that on into adulthood.

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What are we doing?

With your support we can mentor and train teachers to be mountain bike leaders and coaches from grassroots to super techy and/or remote travel, bike packing, and skills training. We can support the school in the creation of risk assessments and standard operating procedures specifically for mountain biking and advise on routes. While some schools may find their location limited for traditional mountain biking terrain, much can be achieved with some ramps, skinnies and a field.

We are also in an amazing position in Scotland in that we can train aspiring mountain bike leaders from 16 years of age so couple that with mechanics courses for pupils, leadership training, trail building (with owner permissions of course) and first aid, the holistic nature that surrounds mountain biking can meet the needs of many pupils and teachers whether academically driven or more vocationally focused.

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Healthy active lifestyles

Mountain biking is not a universal panacea, but it can be one tool in our toolkit to help young people become more physically active, more emotionally resilient and, through riding, more in-tune with the wonderful world we live in. Your support would be amazing;

£1,000 enables us to train up to 6 new leaders (from 16 years and upwards) at the FunMBL Level giving them the most awesome skill set with a leadership framework that is congruent with leadership frameworks used across canoeing, mountain leader training and a number of other outdoor adventure sports.

£550 enables us to take a confident rider and train them to be a leader at Level 2.

£750 enables us to develop a bespoke framework for any schools including technical advice and guidance from one of our experienced Tutors

£5000 enables us to buy an adapted bike for a physically disabled child or young person to use enabling them to share the mountain biking experience.

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What about girls?

We have seen participation rates for 11 to 15-year-olds playing organised competitive sports fall and this is more notable in girls. Girls, generally are less positive about PE in school than boys with PE often considered as something for the ‘sporty’ girl.

For many, the influence of poor self-esteem with a perceived conflict between the image of the ‘sporty’ girl and ‘femininity’ alongside a strong focus on traditional and competitive sports can also be a turnoff. Many look for a fun and social experience, many are motivated by a desire to ‘get fit’ but often don’t consider cycling as a way to do this (cycling is often considered simply as a mode of transport, more relevant for kids or the ‘elite’ (think Tour de France) than something that will help with fitness or a social experience!

Puberty. Not often talked about but definitely a factor. Both girls and boys can experience mood swings but for girls, there seems to be a greater influence as body confidence and self-esteem lower and the opinion of peers weighs down more heavily. Interestingly self-consciousness can reduce if participating with a friend or group of friends.

It is so important for us to have female leaders out there, in schools demonstrating that mountain biking is for girls too! Relevant and relatable role models make a massive perceptive difference and as part of any support we offer into a school, training and mentoring female riders to become leaders is high on our agenda.

With £1000 we can take up to 8 aspiring female leaders from the school environment (from one school or a cluster) and mentor them through the FunMBL or Level 2. This investment ensures that girls in the school (as well as parents and carers) will be able to see first hand the accessibility of mountain biking for girls as well as boys.

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If you can't find a good role model, be one

Gayle Ann Hurd
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