General News:

Mini Riders pilot programme gives Ukrainian children the chance to enjoy fun cycling sessions


During July and early August, award-winning charity Sport Aberdeen was pleased to deliver the Mini Riders pilot programme on behalf of Scottish Cycling.

Aimed at children aged 4-8 years old who can already ride a bike independently, Mini Riders is designed to bridge the gap between the pathway of learning to ride a bike, and then joining a youth club thereafter.      

Sport Aberdeen’s community sport team led the delivery of five 4-hour sessions with a small group of Ukrainian children at the Dyce multi use games area (MUGA), adjacent to the 3G pitch. Due to the young age of the participating children, none of the sessions were road based.

Volunteers also helped at the sessions including Bob Tayler, Head of Outdoor Education at Robert Gordon’s College, Alex Calton & Scott Goodall from beCyCle community project, and Molly Evans, former Scottish cycling champion and active member of Deeside Thistle Cycling Club.   

Camphill School kindly donated a selection of reconditioned second-hand bikes to the project for the children to use, and ASDA Dyce generously provided free water for the participants. 

The sessions were crafted to be progressive, stimulating and fun – various exercises and games were introduced to support with the development of cycling skills including balance, general bike control, track standing, cycling out of the saddle, and riding safely near others.

Although the programme is geared towards children who can already cycle, two children unable to ride a bike attended some of the sessions. One child made excellent progress and managed to pedal around the MUGA and the surrounding park area.

At the end of the final session, children enjoyed drawing a velodrome and taking part in individual pursuit races, followed by grass track racing.

One young girl said: “I love cycling!”

Two parents who were keen on acquiring bikes for future rides with their children were directed to the beCyCle project volunteers, with the hope that they could assist in procuring the bikes.    

Mark Pain, Community Sport Manager at Sport Aberdeen, said: “It has been very rewarding to deliver the Mini Riders sessions on behalf of Scottish Cycling to young Ukrainian children living in Aberdeen.

“The children had a lot of fun, and we are grateful to the volunteers who gave up their time to help at the sessions.

“We’d also like to thank Camphill School for the generous donation of bikes for the children to use, and to ASDA Dyce for providing the water.      

“This project forms part of wider work we are doing with the local Ukrainain community, and we are keen to build on this by increasing the number of opportunities available to communities across the city who face barriers to engaging in sport and physical activity.”

Molly Evans, Active Schools volunteer and former Scottish Road and omnium champion, said: “I enjoyed being part of the programme because I love riding my bike, and spreading that enjoyment to others is excellent.

“I think the children really enjoyed getting the opportunity to learn how to ride safely whilst having fun too. I love cycling because not only is it a sport, but also a key life skill and mode of transport – there are so many uses, and I think it’s a great skill for children to learn.” 

Bob Tayler, Head of Outdoor Education at Robert Gordon’s College, said: “The Mini Riders programme started with games and challenges to enable the young children to ride the bikes fast (or as fast as they could) and have a laugh!

“The language barrier was less prevalent than we thought, as a lot of the activities required a demonstration and simple, clear instruction.

“It was a great programme well delivered by Sport Aberdeen Project Activator Laura Benson and hopefully can be developed throughout the city.”

Further information about Mini Riders can be found on British Cycling’s website here.

Above: Ukrainian children enjoying the Mini Riders sessions at the Dyce multi-use games area