Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


Northfield Ecocentre would like to expand its successful Cycle South Brum programme and teach 20% of children and youth with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental conditions such as Dyspraxia and Hypermobility from South Birmingham to cycle confidently on two-wheeled bikes.

Around one in a hundred children in the UK have autism (NHS). In South Birmingham alone there are around 1655 children and teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder in state funded primary and secondary schools, as well as in special schools (2016 School Census).
Despite the recognised benefits that exercise may provide to children and youth with autism (boosting motor skills, improving social communication, attention, behavioural issues, performance on academic tasks and preventing obesity) opportunities to learn to cycle are extremely limited.

Our ambition is to offer a cycling tuition programme that is individualised and inclusive at the same time. Our programme will be developed in collaboration with health as well as special needs education professionals. It will be offered in locations which reduce sensory overload. We will develop a communication approach that suits people with ASD.

The Ecocentre already runs a successful programme called ‘Cycle South Brum’ for children and adults of all abilities. In 2016 we taught over 400 people to cycle with confidence and maintain their own a bike. Over two years of the project duration we would like to:
A. design and deliver 100 cycling tuition sessions to 50 children/ youth per year and 80 bike maintenance tuition sessions to
40 children/ youth per year (including pre-tuition assessments and Learning Management System administration)
B. design and deliver a Train the Trainer programme for 18 cycling instructors from South Birmingham and beyond (primarily targeting parents of autistic children who have taken part in our courses and have excellent understanding of autism)
To design the programme we are going to collaborate with experts and practitioners from leading educational establishments for children with autism and learn about their experiences of teaching sport and physical activity. To reach the potential beneficiaries the Ecocentre will use relationships with SEN coordinators in special schools as well as autism related charities such as Autism West Midlands and Asperger's Heroes.
Our Cycle South Brum Coordinator, Phil Beardmore, has completed an autism awareness course and has already taught cycling to a number of children with autism. Our Cycling Project Assistant, Esther Barnes, has also started working with some children with Aspergers' and will receive further training so she can teach a greater number of children with ASD, dyspraxia and hypermobility.
This quote from a parent of a child with autism demonstrates the difference the lessons made in his sons life:
"Phil was great in helping my son Omar make a start in cycling. He had a keen eye for noticing where Omar had difficulties and knew how to break things down and start at the very beginning to make things easier for Omar - things we would not have thought of doing."
Within one year we will get at least 80 children/youth with ASD on their bikes which means boosting confidence, improving physical and mental wellbeing of 5% of children/ youth with ASD.
At least 4 cycling instructors who successfully complete the course in year two of the project will come from South Birmingham. Two of these will be parents/carers of children with ASD as we think they will make excellent tutors of autistic children. This Train the Trainer approach would enable us to scale up the programme and increase the ratio of ASD children and youth who can cycle from 5% to 20% at the end of year two (and increase the number of children who can cycle to 320).
The remaining cycling instructors will come from other parts of West Midlands and will contribute to replicating the methodology and making the difference in other regions.

Project Video

Northfield Ecocentre (Central England Quakers)

Moment of Pride

We are proud of the work that Northfield Ecocentre does to help improve the lives of people with learning difficulties and the positive changes that they have made to their lives. 'After years of trying to get help for my son, we were lucky enough to find help at Northfield Ecocentre' (Parent)

Location: Birmingham