Police learn sign language to teach deaf children to cycle

Cycle training in Regents Park with the Met Police

The Met Police’s Safer Parks team in Primrose Hill and Regents park is working with a primary school for deaf children to offer safe cycling sessions.

Because of their hearing issues, many deaf children never learn to cycle because of balance and communication difficulties, which can cause problems on public roads.

Blue Wheelers' Project leader PS Polly Rowell and her team had already been teaching the Frank Barnes school children about personal and road safety.

Sgt Rowell explains,

‘We used to visit Frank Barnes school but the issue was always communication. Then Pete, one of the officers, decided that he’d learn to sign. He took an evening class, passed his exams, and then he started teaching the other officers.’

‘That makes things a lot easier and the kids think it’s great, not least because they’re teaching us at the same time as we’re teaching them. And that’s what partnership working is all about!'

The Safer Parks team has now started to provide cycle training for the kids.

Sgt Rowell sees Regents Park as an ideal, safe environment for children to learn to ride.

‘The Park is actually quite restricted in terms of where people can ride. But there is a public area and there are roads, albeit quieter than the main roads nearby.
By incorporating the local environment into the training sessions and using it to practice communication skills the kids become more and more confident rides.’

Donated bikes from the Met police were repaired for the children to use.

Sgt Rowell says,

‘We could actually help the children access something which those without hearing problems take for granted – riding a bike.’

‘And that means that the opportunities outside school expand because they can then ride with their hearing siblings, with their family and friends, and even carry on with it as a general life skill.'

Fact file

Name: The Blue Wheelers cycling project – Regents Park and Primrose Hill Safer Park team
Purpose: Cycling for deaf children
Awarded £4.407 in 2009 from the Community Cycling Fund for London and the Big Lottery
Activities: cycle training, safety and awareness lessons.