Adventure playground cycle haven for children with special needs

Lady Allen Adventure Playground

Lady Allen adventure playground in Wandsworth provides a specialist service for children with special needs and disabilities.

Funding from the LCC managed Community Cycling Fund for London has enabled the project to fix up bikes for the kids to ride.

Project worker Ellen explains how much enjoyment the kids get out of the bikes:

'One of our children, aged 13, could only ride a tricycle until just recently when we did some one-to-one coaching with him.'

'Now he is always on a bike, learning how to fix it and do tricks with the BMX. It has really boosted his confidence and been great in terms of his social interaction in the playground.'

Some children require one-to-one care but all of them get the chance to cycle and repair the bikes that often get quite a battering.

The Lady Allen Adventure Playground

The playground has used funding to train project workers in cycle maintenance, and to purchase tools and spare parts. Two shipping containers are now stacked to the brim with trikes, BMXs and recumbents.

There is a bike for everyone and the wooded tracks and trails of the playground create the perfect cycling environment.

The playground is used by school groups, respite centres and local young people. Rosie Tharp from the community team at the London Cycling Campaign visited on a sunny autumn day:

“There were over 20 kids whizzing around on wheels - and that was a quiet session! They were all having so much fun and it was fantastic to see the big smiles on the kids’ faces.”

Making a difference

Veronica Boys of KIDS, the umbrella organisation that runs the service believes that cycling can make a real difference to young people with special needs:

'If a child can’t ride we start by taking the pedals off so they can get used to scooting around. A lot of kids prefer the bikes with back pedalling breaks as it makes more sense to them.'

'It is excellent for developing co-ordination and muscle control and brilliant exercise which also helps the children let off steam!'

Fact file

Name: Lady Allen Adventure playground
Purpose: Cycling opportunities for children with special needs.
Awarded £3,355 in 2009 from the Community Cycling Fund for London.
Activities: Cycling sessions to promote cycling and increase emotional and physical wellbeing of participants.