Cycling Fun at the Sands End Adventure Playground

Training sessions aim to encourage confidence and safety

Training group left to right – Ziyad Mohamed (11), Connie Wheeler-Kimpton (10), Ava Headman (11), cycling instructor Tiago Santoianni (36), Maddie Nafi (11), Rayan Mohamed (11) and Noha Adamsu (11)
Training group left to right – Ziyad Mohamed (11), Connie Wheeler-Kimpton (10), Ava Headman (11), cycling instructor Tiago Santoianni (36), Maddie Nafi (11), Rayan Mohamed (11) and Noha Adamsu (11)

Local Year 6 pupils rang in the Easter holidays with a week of cycling fun at the Sands End Adventure Playground (SEAPIA) earlier this month.

The training course taught eight young cycling protégés all about cycle and road safety while boosting their confidence on the bikes.

“I had so much fun and learned a lot,” said Ava Headman, 11. “They even showed us some new tricks!” added Maddie Nafi, 11.

The two-hour-sessions funded by the council catered to 10 and 11-year-olds regardless of their abilities and experience. Both beginners as well as more seasoned cyclists came along for the ride.

“It’s been two years since I last rode a bike,” said Kayla Owo, 10, after acing a lap around the club’s outdoor football court. “It’s all coming back to me now. It’s a lot of fun!”

Meanwhile Rayan Mohamed, 11, joined the course to brush up on her cycling skills. “I learned how to stay safe,” she said. “I feel like I’m ready to take on the road now!”

To encourage more people to cycle the council provides a range of training opportunities through professional, experienced instructors to local families, schools and holiday clubs.

“I love cycling,” said Tiago Santoianni, 36, who has worked as a cycling instructor for five years.

“You’re active, your carbon footprint is practically zero, you’re usually faster... And people any age can learn it. I’ve trained kids as young as two years old, and adults in their 80s!”

Rob James, 78, agreed: “It’s fascinating to train children; they catch on so fast. But training adults is equally rewarding.”

He added, “Some of them have been trying to get into cycling their whole lives. And suddenly you see them around the borough, riding on the road and using their bikes for their daily commutes. It’s fantastic.”

In addition to the cycling programmes for primary and secondary schools, H&F offers regular sessions for adults who live, work or study in the borough.

Learn more about free bike training and maintenance offers.

After a week of cycling fun at the SEAPIA, the young cycle trainees received their certificates on Friday (8 April).

“They had a wonderful week,” said Julie Cavanagh, 60, who has been with SEAPIA since it first opened its doors in 1970 – when she was just eight years old.

“Always having somewhere to go meant so much to me,” she remembered.

“I formed friendships that I still have now. I’ve just come back from a long weekend getaway with some of the friends I made there, laughing about the old days.”

Julie has been managing SEAPIA for six years – a community space for H&F pupils to play, learn, socialise and enjoy a hot meal after school (form 3pm to 6.30pm) and during the holidays (between 9am and 5pm).

Manager Julie Cavanagh first joined Sands End Adventure Playground when she was a kid more than 50 years agoManager Julie Cavanagh first joined Sands End Adventure Playground when she was a kid more than 50 years ago

“What we do is meet the needs of local people. It's all about building a better community and future for these kids.”

Supported through H&F Council, the club’s in-and-outdoor facilities invite the youngsters to do arts, craft, sports and music together, or help prepare healthy meals for elderly members of the local community at SEAPIA’s very own community kitchen.

“At the end of the day, it doesn't matter about the equipment,” Julie concluded. “What matters is that our carers are committed, and that the children feel safe. And that's what it is; a safe place.”

April 18, 2022

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