BMX club keeps kids out of gangs
Sport has long been considered an excellent way to keep kids out of trouble, teach respect for others and use up energy in a positive way. We recently caught up with a project in an east London schools which aims to give young boys who are at risk of being recruited into gangs a different place to turn to; the BMX track.
BMX racing is a fast paced aggressive style of riding. It’s a great sport to introduce to pupils who have a lot of energy that might otherwise be concentrated into disruptive behaviour. The BMX club is teaching the boys to channel their energy into the pedals and the track. The sport demands concentration, dedication and teaches those who take part to respect their competitors.
The Sustrans project is funded by Tower Hamlets NHS and works with the Bow Boys BMX club which is part of the Bike it project; working with schools across the nation to set up and sustain a cycling culture within schools. The idea is to deliver events and activities that engage school pupils, inspiring them to get on their bikes and ride. The great thing about the project is that it's not prescriptive, we work with schools to try and meet their individual needs. Bow Boys have been a Bike It school for 3 years and they are very keen to introduce their students to cycling as a sport.
It was their PE department’s idea to start the BMX club as a way of engaging and encouraging the boys to cycle to school more. The school also wanted to address the problem of Gang Culture, which is an issue within Tower Hamlets. The idea behind the club is to set up a positive "Gang" that the boys feel they are part of and take ownership of. It's a great way to encourage them to push themselves and interact positively in a social context. Below is a great quote from the PE Teacher who's idea it was to form the club.
Dan Pitt, PE Teacher Bow Boys Secondary:
"Bow School is a proactive and committed hub of the local community and is looking for opportunities to expand and broaden the life opportunities for all pupils within the school. In recent years we have worked very hard on improving active and healthy living experiences in school and one of the most prominent pathway in recent years has been cycling; a fact that the school is very keen to build upon. This year we have written cycling into the PE curriculum and are also starting BMX teams in every year group, the BMX teams are targeted to help improve sustainable, long life participation and will be used to support talent ID and disaffected pupil participation."
It's key that after school clubs benefit from donations. Schools more than ever are struggling to spread their finances. Over the past couple of years school budgets have been dramatically cut and as a result after school clubs are suffering. Now funding has been secured for the floodlights the club can run all year round. With the clocks going back there is a rise in anti-social behaviour. As this club can now run throughout the year, those boys that might be stuck for things to do during the winter months can now concentrate their energy on the club.
Sustrans are currently running a 'Sponsor a bike' scheme so the club can have more bikes and even higher participation, keep up with their progress @jamescycle on Twitter.
It's amazing to see the difference that sports can have in kids' lives, check out projects in your local area and see what you can do to help.
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