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Access sport

This girl can BMX, Southwark, Access sport, Local women, often BAME/low income, 2016 , £ 7064

Access Sport works to encourage and facilitate sporting activities for those in society who usually do not have the opportunity to partake in such activities. They aim to increase confidence, improve health and inspire those who take part in its projects.

The group saw that the Burgess Park BMX track was a well-used resource, but with very little female participation. Often groups that took part were male orientated and competitive in nature. They saw the opportunity to create a ladies only event that would provide a safe space for women to learn with each other.

The group have run weekly sessions on a Tuesday evening, which has taught various levels of BMXing, from basic handling and riding skills through to more advanced BMX track riding. The emphasis has been on exercise, rather than competition, The coach is experienced in providing female only sessions, and is aware of the specific needs of the group.

Through learning the bike handling skills which are a part of BMX riding, participants have built the confidence to take part in cycling outside of the sessions. Many have bought their own bikes, use the cycle hire scheme, or occasionally borrow their children’s bikes to go to the shops or visit friends and family.

The age range has been large, from 18 year olds to 50 year olds. The group has engaged those in the local area around Burgess Park, who are often BAME, low income and were inactive. Word of mouth has also played a big part, with one participant finding out about the sessions through their son who rides at the BMX track at junior sessions.

The number of women taking part has grown through the course of the project. Participants have felt an improvement in their confidence on bikes, their physical and mental health and have built social groups, often enjoying a post session drink with each other. It has provided the opportunity to see that BMX is not a male only sport, and is an excellent and fun form of exercise.