Olympic Champion and MBE Chris Boardman has pledged his support for Balanceability, which helps teach the under 6s how to ride a bike.
The programme is the first and only accredited ‘learn to cycle’ programme for children from two and a half to six years old, building confidence, spatial awareness and balancing skills so they never have to use stabilisers.
Balanceability’s 12-week self-taught course is available to schools, leisure centres and independent trainers. It is active on 20 sites across the UK currently, with 98 per cent of children aged four to six able to safely ride a pedal bike by the end of the programme.
Boardman said: "Balanceability is the fundamental starting point for children’s cycling and an excellent opportunity to promote active lifestyles at the earliest possible age.
“I can see it also provides a natural lead into Bikeability for Schools and I would encourage all schools to give children the opportunity to use balance bikes."
Patricia Maude MBE, lecturer in physical education at Homerton College, University of Cambridge and author of Physical Children, Active Teaching supports the programme. She said: “The Balanceability programme offers children a great opportunity to become competent cyclists at an early age through the development of balance and control. The programme is made up of progressive learning experiences, with fun ways to learn to cycle on balance bikes. This programme is a foundation for cyclists of the future, through which young children can practise and achieve the balance needed to ride a bicycle, but without the encumbrance of pedals.
“The recently published reports in July 2011 of both the Chief Medical Officers’ Report and the NHS ‘Physical Activity Guidelines for Children (under five years), call for an increase in physical activity for most children. The Balanceability programme ably contributes to meeting the physical activity guidelines for healthy development as well as providing a success-orientated experience, helping to build up children’s confidence and sense of achievement.”
The Balanceability programme launch coincided with the release of the Government’s ‘Start Active, Stay Active’ policy, which lays out new guidelines for increasing physical activity among young children. It has been awarded a Kitemark by the Professional Development Board for Physical Education and is in line with the curriculum guidance for Foundation Stage pupils.