Joseph Waite – Graham Anderson House
Here is a little reflection on how Free Wheel North has been a key resource for our service users:
I work as a Physiotherapist in a service for individuals who have sustained brain injury from many causes including direct trauma (such as falls or road traffic accidents), stroke, infections or hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the part of the brain affected). Brain injury can impact how an individual behaves, process information and how they physically move. They may experience muscle tightness, loss of strength (on one or both sides of their body), reduced coordination or balance and among others it may impact their ability to move or walk without support. While in rehabilitation we work with service users to improving their mobility, confidence and focus on the goals that are important to them. This may be – among others - to return to work, sport, walking, or to live with more independence.
Once a week I bring some service users to Free Wheel North as part of their rehabilitation, as I feel Community activities and being outdoors are both therapeutic and great for psychological and physical health. Caz and her team are always friendly, approachable and believe anything is possible, adapting their communication so that they build a rapport and trust with anyone- and most importantly get everyone on a bike! Riding (with a helmet) has allowed service users to improve their balance, spatial awareness, coordination, upper limb grasp and function and also improve exercise tolerance. I have noticed service users can have improved concentration and focus during cycling, and I feel it has had a significant impact on psychological well-being and self-esteem.
One particular service user has found coming to cycling particularly beneficial as it tapped into previous positive aspects of his identity. Focusing on things he could do- ride a bike – rather than being overly fixated on things he was finding difficult allowed him to engage more with therapy and see it as something that was important to him. Caz and her team were pivotal in this, and for this we are hugely thankful. I do not know what Glasgow would do without FWN!
Thanks again for all your help.
Free Wheel North Case Study
Johnny Gibbons, Support Worker - Key
Michael is a 17years old boy that has learning difficulties (Autism) and has been riding a tricycle at freewheel and also at home, for over 2 years. I am a support worker with Key and after talking to his parents I brought Michael to freewheel on 13th August 2107 for instruction on how to go a 2 wheeler bike. After spending a bit of time at freewheel over the next 2 weeks and getting educated by Dave we were able to get Michael a bike and continue with his bicycle education closer to home as we only have a couple of hours a day supporting Michael.
The improvement in Michael over the next month was exceptional to the extent that he is now able to ride his 2 wheeler bicycle himself. We are still working on getting Michael to start the bike off himself but as Michael is never alone this is not a major problem. I have took pictures and videos (with mums permission) from when he started until he started going himself.
I would never have had the idea of Michael learning to go the 2 wheeler if this facility at freewheel wasn’t available and it was through talking to Dave and Carol, when I was there with other service users, that the idea came into my head. On talking to them they gave off the impression that nothing was impossible and their enthusiasm made my mind up. They never gave a timescale or any assurances but their attitude was “let’s try and see how it goes”.
After following Dave’s instructions Michael is now in a position where he is riding his bike and enjoying it and Michaels family are delighted with his progression to a 2 wheeler. This opens so many doors for Michael and his family and we are all eternally grateful for the time spent at freewheel. Thanks again
Lisa Monaghan (Michael's Mum)
Thank you for all the help and support you have given Johnny and the rest of Michael's support workers to enable him to get to the stage where he can now ride a 2 wheeler independently. We as a family are delighted that Michael can now do this. From when Michael was a very young age, I was asked what I wanted his future to look like and my reply was always to be as independent as possible and to achieve everything he found possible. You have all helped us to achieve another milestone, and for that we are eternally grateful.
Please feel free to share Michael's photos, videos and story with your funders and on social media. I hope it helps to encourage others to do what yourselves, Johnny and the rest of the team have done.
Cardinal Winnings Secondary School, January 2020
Our pupils enjoyed another great afternoon at Freewheel North in Glasgow Green! Thanks again for your dedication and support. I thought I'd share with you some of the comments made by our pupils and staff, before, during and after our trip.
The questions usually start on a Tuesday (my first day of the week as I work part-time) with "Are we cycling on Friday, Miss?" This happens every week as the pupils eagerly anticipate our trips, and the pupils are always thrilled to hear a positive response. The pupils are fully aware that if the weather is inclement, our trip is cancelled or short-lived and this really disappoints them.
Our mixed year and ability group gathers together before the trip and our preparations begin: toilet visits, water bottles filled, jackets on, cycle helmets allocated and fastened, pupils' plan to sit with their friends on the minibus or share 2-person/4-person bikes on the circuit. The enthusiasm and anticipation is palpable. Responsibilities are allocated and off we go. Landmarks are pointed out en route – pupils' houses, hairdressers, fruit shops etc, great conversation takes place amongst the group, and this helps our pupils develop not only communication skills but also local and environmental awareness.
We arrive, disembark and then make an eager dash (we prefer walking but some pupils are just too keen to get onto the bikes). Two-wheelers, three-wheelers, four-wheelers, even a 6-person bike, fantastic! Then there's the go-carts – the choice on offer is just magical. The pupils squeal with delight as they pedal round and round the circuit.
What do our pupils love about Glasgow Green cycling? It's the cycling of course, but in a secure, safe environment where they are known, recognised and coached by your friendly and supportive staff and volunteers. They like being able to chop and change between the different bikes and go-carts available. They also like both cycling on their own and with their peers or school staff and although they are aware of the health and wellbeing benefits of cycling, the focus is on having fun! Even our staff enjoy the opportunity to regain lost skills and fitness. The pupils also know that both seating and toilet facilities are to hand – so almost all needs met, however, we are looking forward to the building of your café, not only for refreshments but also using this as an opportunity to help our pupils develop confidence, communication and money-handling skills.
We know that you and your team are immensely proud of your cost-effective facilities and as "users" we are grateful to you and your sponsors for providing these. A large number of our pupils have challenging home circumstances where the access to bicycles and go-karts is non-existent. Having the use of Freewheel North has meant our pupils have developed cycling skills which would otherwise not have been possible.
Thanks again to all involved – we're looking forward to cycling again after our mid-term break.