This project began in 2017 to boost cycling opportunities for girls in Fife. Girls and young women are not participating in the same numbers in club level activity and in SIMD areas no girls attend. Cycling uptake by females is low nationally (8% of women; Scottish Household Survey, 2016). This project aims to tackle this on a local level in Fife.
Kirkcaldy has good cycling infrastructure; a thriving community club (Middleden MTB Club), community facilities (newly upgraded MTB trails, paths, and shared use paths and routes) a community youth Bike Club and Gallatown Bike hub (with new pump track on its way). This makes the area perfect for developing opportunities in the community.
Platform is a unique health and well-being cycling project delivered by Fife Council that creates a ‘Platform for Success’. Platform is aimed at encouraging young women and girls age 9- 16yrs to develop a love for cycling and be inspired to enjoy the outdoors in Templehall (top 5% SIMD Datazone 2016), Kirkcaldy. It develops life skills, raises awareness of positive mental health and attitude, and a safe space for participants to grow. Most importantly it makes cycling fun and easy.
Platform creates a safe, friendly and welcoming space for inactive girls and young women to develop fundamental skills from body self-esteem, friendships, physical competence and confidence as well as learning to ride a bike effectively and develop physical fitness. Participants are carefully referred through a questionnaire with comments from school staff based on existing activity levels, reduced involvement and girls at risk of disengagement.
Platform cycling activities are delivered weekly, during the school day locally in Kirkcaldy. We store our bikes and equipment in Middleden’s container and go out on local paths and the MTB trails.
We have also attended the Fort William Downhill World Cup, Glenmore Lodge for a residential experience, Lochore outdoor activities and Fife Cycle Park.Back
Particular focus is on tackling poverty and inequalities,and improving health and well-being. We remove the financial and physical barriers to participation. Execution of this project has involved extensive planning and precision delivery. It is delivered to tackle local issues such as poverty, inactivity, inequality and poorer outcomes in life and is built around the lives of the participants to ensure it is easy to access and free.
Success lies not only in the inspirational delivery of the activities but in the ease of accessibility and a pathway that supports each individual. Sessions are delivered away from the school grounds to ensure the girls don’t experience any negativity or worry about on lookers. We explore their local neighbourhood on bikes exposing them to new areas that are walking distance from home but they were unaware of them, or their perceptions were negative.
The exceptional partnership work and positive relationships has elevated this project to achieve excellence. Delivered in partnership with Community Learning, the schools, club and groups. The project has been specifically planned to work with the school Curriculum for Excellence, the Plan for Fife and national priorities which has meant that partners recognise and value the project’s ethos – embracing and encouraging its development. This enables the project to be delivered to its full capacity with 100% support for each aspect.
Key to its successes is the attention paid to ensuring each participate is made to feel welcome and an integral member of group. Equipment and specialist clothing are provided to all. Cycling is introduced in a relaxed and friendly environment. All activities are interactive, and participant led creating opportunities to form friendships, develop confidence and self-esteem. Participants are continually consulted on planning, delivery and execution of sessions as well as the choice of trips.
This includes designing the Platform logo and trips such as the residential in Aviemore and attendance at Comrie Croft festival. Participants become active, empowered and confident over a period of sessions, their success is rewarded and recognised at each step. Deliverers pay particular attention to ensuring that participants develop a positive attitude towards physical activity, each other and cycling.
Platform has incorporated an accreditation element with an opportunity to gain certification – Dynamic Youth Awards and Leadership qualifications; I Can Lead, Bike Leadership, Education Through Cashback Training. These lifelong skills and far reaching opportunities will equip our group for a positive destinationBack
There are now 25 girls age 10-15yrs who are enrolled in Platform. All of whom want more opportunities to be involved in cycling. We have also enrolled young people from club backgrounds to provide coaching pathway support to help increase the number of women in cycling leadership.
Platform has achieved outstanding results. Physical cycling skills improved by an average of 11% with some individuals 43%. ONS monitoring demonstrated an improvement. Participant results indicate they felt happier as a direct result of their involvement and reported their life felt more worthwhile. Developing close trusting relationships enables a personal programme of activities and a lasting accessible programme that girls can belong.
Platform transforms lives. Project deliverers have witnessed this first hand. The residential experience saw participants reach and achieve the biggest physical challenge of their lives. Smashing it and being left with a lasting desire to do more.
Platform measures physical activity levels at the start of the block. This is monitored throughout. Weekly sessions and further community engagement is measured. Weekly monitoring and carefully evaluating each session occur weekly, time is made for this and enables effective planning. The results indicate a shift from inactive to active over the duration of one block. Participants remain positive towards activity when sessions break (school term delivery) and re-join with enthusiasm when sessions continue.
ONS well-being survey is conducted at 10 week intervals. Results have indicated positive change on all aspects. Utilising the ONS (Office for National Statistics) Well-Being Survey, we have been able to monitor individuals. Results have been insightful and aided the content of sessions to include discussions on health and wellbeing, sometimes tackling difficult topics in small groups or individually. The overall results demonstrate positive change in all 3 questions. Happiness improved by 44% and the feeling of live being worthwhile by 30%. Participants stated a 100% rating for how happy the project made them feel.
Video, feedback and informal interviews revealed participants over whelming sense of achievement, success, feeling active, feeling sporty for the first time in their lives, active, involved, included and part of “a special family”.
We are very proud that the attention to all details that ensured it was delivered the way we prescribed has paid off. We have had the privilege of being a part of the girls’ growth and have watched shy, under confident girls transform into outgoing challenge seekers. Unafraid of getting stuck in and able to talk about their feelings, hopes and fears. The girls are now active, are keen to remain involved and we will continue to work with them for the foreseeable future.
Platform has been designed to continue for the foreseeable future with elements requiring match funded however without reliance on external funding the projects core delivery can be sustained.Back