Platform is a unique cycling project aimed at encouraging young women and girls to develop a love for cycling and inspiring them to enjoy the outdoors. Uptake of cycling and physical activity in females is much lower than their counterparts and even less so in SIMD (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) areas. Young people in this area are likely to be affected by one or even several deprivation factors, potentially lowering their chances and opportunities in life. This also means that project deliverers must be sensitive to the needs of participants and be mindful of varying life experiences.
Platform introduces participants to cycling and physical activity in a relaxed and friendly environment. The project delivers unique activities, building skills, confidence and social interaction. Participants build trusting relationships with each other and the leaders allowing them to feel comfortable to participate.
The project has no drop out and girls stay engaged once they’ve signed up to Platform. Girls can also gain points for participating in community activities that entitles them to outdoor adventure trips.
The aim of the project is to engage with girls and young women in an area of Kirkcaldy that has good cycle routes, cycling provision and a support network. The project works to facilitate their participation in their own community. Participants are referred onto Platform from a strict criterion with assistance from their school. Activity and well being is monitored throughout as well as weekly evaluation and 1:1s with participants. This ensures the sessions meet the needs of all participants.
In summary the aims are;
- Tackle all barriers
- Create a positive experience at every occasion
- Help develop a positive attitude towards physical activity and sport
- Providing a platform for participants to grow; to develop self-esteem, confidence, self-belief, fitness and the skills to cycle
- Provide a platform to develop emotionally with their peers
- Provide a platform to experience success and achievement
- Provide a platform to engage with positive role models
- Provide new adventure opportunities and individual challenges
We use feedback to ensure delivery meets the needs of participants. Our evaluation from the first phase which started at the end of 2017 strengthened our programme enabling us to gain further funding (SportScotland) and support from the Local Authority to keep it going.
Most importantly the findings demonstrate that the project is having a beneficial and very positive impact on the participants.
We use ONS wellbeing indicators (Office for National Statistics). This helps identify improvement but also can flag up potential issues should the scale drop. All participants recorded an increase in happiness after participating in a block of cycling activities.
The results from our first participants show 11% improvement in all cycle skills as a group.
The results from our second group show 12% improvement in all skills as a group.
Individual improvements ranged from 3% to 43%. All results indicated an improvement in cycle skills. Participants who recorded the most change had also displayed nervousness, anxiety and worries about their abilities at the start of the block.
Project lead states, this project has been enormously rewarding and challenging. We had to do things differently, we ensured that relationship and trust building was a key component and it worked. Our girls have developed a strong group bond and trust us as leaders. We spend as long as it take to ensure every participant feels confident, special, important and welcome. Then, when on a bike we make them see how they have improved, that they are fit, active and happier. We reward them and we give them honest real supportive feedback. We feel this is what has created a strong group that now loves cycling, who’s initial fears have gone, who now can’t wait to go on more adventures.
Teachers working directly with the participants provided us with feedback and noted the change they have seen.
“The girls have become very motivated and speak positively about the experience”.
“Our P6 teacher feels that the girls involved have become more positive towards PE and are now enjoying their gym sessions. She also feels that a higher level of confidence is being displayed”.
“The girls have liked being outside and have said it made them feel more energised”.
“Before this project we couldn’t go out as a family for a cycle as my daughter said she hated cycling. Now we are cycling as a family and I’m so proud of her”.
“I had no idea she was so good on a bike”
“The trip was amazing, she has not stopped talking about it”.
“At the start of the whole scheme, I was nervous and worried about being embarrassed in case I made mistakes or fell off my bike. As the weeks have gone on my confidence has really improved and I have learned that I don’t need to worry about falling off as that happens to everyone! Plus we were also shown how to fall off safely!”
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