Gloucestershire mum's innovative cycle programme for children is backed by Olympian Boardman

Balanceability - the UK's first and only accredited 'learn to cycle' programme for children aged 2 ½ to 6 years old is being supported by Olympic Champion cyclist Chris Boardman MBE.

The innovative programme has been developed in the UK over the past two years by Cirencester mum Maria Yates who recognised the need for a learn to cycle programme to precede the national Bikeability scheme.

The Balanceability programme combines unique ergonomic balance bikes with a programme of activity that builds confidence, spatial awareness and dynamic balance skills enabling young children to cycle without ever needing stabilisers.

Olympic champion Chris Boardman MBE, 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."

The Balanceability programme is aligned with the Government's 'Start Active, Stay Active' policy which lays out new guidelines for increased physical activity for 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.

The programme is a structured 12-week self-taught course available to schools, leisure centres and independent trainers. It is currently active on 20 sites across the UK with 98% of children aged 4-6 years old being able to safely ride a pedal bike at the end of the programme.

Maria Yates, founder of Balanceability, said: “Learning to ride a bike is a right of passage for every child but sadly many children have real difficulty making the transition from stabilisers resulting in many 6 and 7 year olds being unable to ride.

“I developed Balanceability to help parents with this challenge and to get their kids riding a bicycle confidently and safely. Balance Bikes are an excellent way to teach young children how to ride a with confidence and this structured programme provides teachers, cycle trainers and children’s activity leaders an accredited, proven programme to follow. My mission is now to make Balanceability available across the whole of the UK to every child that would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike and support parents that are finding this a challenge.”

The programme has also been lauded by 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 5 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.”