Growing levels of obesity amongst the population, including children, are well documented. The cause of this epidemic is complex and multi-faceted – but is linked to lifestyle changes over the last 50 years. Amongst the changes is the fall in the amount of exercise we and our children take. The current recommendation is that 5 -18 years take at least 60 minutes of “moderate” to “vigorous” physical activity each day. Yet less than one third of children achieve this.*
Many children own bicycles and yet rarely use them, often because they have outgrown them or because they need a bit of TLC – jammed on brakes, or no brakes at all, make it pretty hard for a child to enjoy freewheeling down a hill in the local park! This is why Life Cycle is organising Cycle Active – a series of cycling events aimed at families this summer, funded by Awards for All.
Encouraging and supporting parents to cycle, while equipping children with the skills to cycle safely, is essential to getting more children cycling on a regular basis. Cycle Active events aim to do just that – particularly focusing on communities in Bristol where cycling levels are low. To this end, we are organising a series of community based events, for people living in Avonmouth, Southmead and Knowle over the next 6-months.
Activities will include Kids’ Bike swaps – enabling children to trade up their outgrown bike for another, fun cycle skills sessions and “Bike Rodeos” to get young people active. As well as this we will have a “Dr Bike” mechanic on hand to help people with small issues like faulty or worn brakes, flats and punctures and crunching gears.
If you can’t make it to a Cycle Active event, Life Cycle runs weekly fix-it and cycling sessions for young people at St Pauls, Southmead and Lockleaze Adventure Playgrounds so, you can always encourage your child to attend our drop-in sessions.
As well as activities being run by Life Cycle there are plenty of other opportunities to get cycling this summer – Cycling Sundays will be coming back to the Downs two more times, and on Sunday 21st June, Sky Ride is coming to Bristol.
Looking beyond such one-off events, the school journey is undoubtedly one of the best ways to help your child achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day - allowing children to get their exercise without having find extra time or money for extra-curricular sport activities.
Life Cycle understands that many parents feel too worried about traffic to let their child cycle to school, but ironically by not cycling and driving their kids to school parents are making the problem worse. Life Cycle is here to help. We offer parents practical support and training to find and plan a good cycle route for the journey - and learn the skills to cycle competently whilst also shepherding their children safely along the route. Cycle training is currently free for adults in Bristol making it a great time to get trained.
So all in all there are no excuses – 2015 has to be the year to get your family cycling. We look forward to seeing you and your kids out on a bike this summer!