Bicycle Network: Teen Riding - The Happiness Cycle
Teen Riding - The Happiness Cycle
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Getting teenagers into the physical activity habit is a challenge. Now, in a new initiative, Bicycle Network and CocaCola are rolling out a national program to get teens on bikes.
Happiness erupts in regional Victoria. Next stop NSW
27 February 2014 - The Happiness Cycle continues it's quest to get teenagers more active, with the program launched in the Victorian towns of Geelong and Shepparton this month.
Geelong - A scorching 38 degree day greeted participants at the Geelong event on Sat 8th Feb at the Barwon Valley Activity Centre .
This did not deter the scores of teens from suburbs such as Belmont, Newcombe, Corio, Norlane and Moolap putting their heads down and assembling their own bikes (with a little help from BMX world champion Sam Willoughby).
Particularly heartwarming was this message from mother of five, Kylie:
"THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.
I took on 3 foster kids, all with special needs, in April last year. Add them to my own two boys, both with autism, and I am busy lots.
Resources have been stretched, my kids have had to share their lives and their everything with these kids who came with nothing and I now consider well equipped for daily life.
On Saturday we were lucky enough to have 3 kids, my own two and one of the DHS girls, selected to receive bikes. It was the most amazingly happy experience for the kids and I as we team built to get the bikes up and working. Then we were spoilt with luck when we managed to get the other DHS girl and our step son bikes that people hadn't turned up for.
The joy in our house Saturday was unmeasurable and the fun continued when all the kids took off for a ride around the local neighbourhood later that evening.
I cannot tell you in words how much this experience means to me. I am so touched to have been a part of the project and love that we were able to take part in such a happy day that will provide unlimited happiness to the kids (none of whom had bikes).
Thank you so much for a treat that I would not have been able to provide! Kylie"
Kylie, you are an inspiration!
Shepparton - Then it was off to Shepparton the next Sunday 16 Feb to welcome local teens to the showgrounds. And thankfully it was a bit cooler with Shep Town putting on a magnificent day for riding.
The local community including council staff, the Shepparton Cycling Club and teachers from Notre Dame College were on hand to help out the participants.
The Bicycle Network team made it clear though that it was up to the teenagers to assemble their own bikes - it's all about self reliance and self sustaining behaviour after all! The teens were active outside in the showgrounds testing out the Happicycle app (see links at right) and competing for ownership of badges and their local "blocks".
A highlight of the day was meeting so many teenagers from such a wide variety of cultures which truly reflected the diverse community of this reinvigorated town.
Our next stop is Bankstown on Thursday 6th March at the Dunc Gray velodrome. Stand by for pics of many more happy, active teens riding on thier new bikes!
Role reversal recruits riders
28 January 2014. Usually we read about parents getting kids to ride, but sometimes the reverse is true: children are so enthusiastic about their bikes that the oldies catch riding fever also.
We have seen this story play out with the teenagers involved in the Happiness Cycle project.
For example Lucas from Caroline Springs is mad about the new bike he received from the Happiness Cycle in Melton in December. But instead of getting one new person on a bike, we got two: Lucas’ step dad has gone out and got himself a new bike so that he can ride with Lucas and join in the fun.
And there is a twist to this story. A a couple of weeks ago his mum contacted us.
“Hello. My son attended your Happiness Cycle event in Caroline Springs on December 12th. He absolutely loved the bike and quite literally was rarely off it, which well and truly surprised us as he has never before been much of a bike lover.
"Unfortunately while Christmas shopping at our local shopping centre last night the bike was stolen from the bike rack (all fully locked up and only gone 20 minutes).
"My son is devastated and unfortunately with Christmas presents already purchased and funds tight we won't be able to stretch to purchasing him a bike any time soon. I honestly have never done something like this before, but I am hoping that you might have a spare available or lead me in the right direction? The bike he was given was the one with the red tyres etc., the racer.
Hope to hear from you soon.”
Lucas is a switched on kid who we arranged to come in and talk to us about the program and his experience. He also put together another new bike and fixed up two other bikes. It was well worth it from our point of view as we got to learn what he thought of the program and how he and his mates had responded.
While talking to him he mentioned that his step dad had earlier this week bought himself a new bike so he could go riding with Lucas.
So the Happiness Cycle has got two people riding – Lucas and his step dad.
The Happiness Cycle is holding its next event on Saturday 8 February in Geelong, with another event the following Sunday in Shepparton.
To register for the Happiness Cycle, just head to www.happinesscycle.com.au
Melton teens kick off national physical activity program
17 Dec 2013 - Last Thursday 13th Dec the Happiness Cycle team, along with program ambassador and world BMX champion Sam Willoughby, kicked off program at the Caroline Springs Leisure Centre in Melton. Congratulations to all the teenagers who attended and successfully assembled their own bikes (with a little help from Sam and Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards). Smiles abounded and heart pounded as over 120 teenagers took to the paths around the leisure centre, clocking up the miles and badges on the Happicycle mobile app. Check out the video here.
The battle to get teens physical
26 November 2013. It's not long before the first of 5000 Australian teenagers gets on a new bike and cycles off into the world of physical activity. Yet this project—The Happiness Cycle—is dodging tacks thrown onto the road by opponents of change. Bicycle Network CEO, Craig Richards, throws out the challenge.
At times, it’s easy to stand on your pulpit and preach to the masses.
At Bicycle Network we love doing it. Give us a stage and we’ll preach loud and proud about how riding a bike makes the world a better place, adds years to your life and is a lot of fun.
Recently, however, we’ve been hearing more sermons than we’ve been delivering.
People pontificating about the evils of our partnership with Coca Cola in a project we’re running aimed at getting young people physically active. It’s called the Happiness Cycle.
Like Le Tour de France, we knew were in for a tough ride when we signed up for this. After all, Bicycle Network is a health promotion charity and we’re partnering with a company that makes a product which some think should be seen as the ultimate evil.
The preachers have accused of terrible things like being “immoral” and “dancing with the devil”.
Let’s put our cloven hooved dance shoes away for a minute and talk about this project to clarify a few things.
Firstly, and most importantly, Bicycle Network will not be driving sales of Coke. What we will be doing is getting teenagers physically active by getting them on bikes.
Because not having a bike is a key barrier to riding, we’ll be handing out more than 5000 bikes to teens (aged 15-16) across Australia by the end of 2014.
Of course, there is no need for teens to buy product to earn them a bike – and we won’t be saying to them ‘go for a ride then drink a Coke.’
Those who get a bike will influence their friends and peers to ride. That means thousands more teenagers jumping on two wheels and getting moving.
What we know about behaviour change programs, like our very successful Ride2School and Ride2Work programs, is that people follow what their peers do. The scientists call this social diffusion. To us it’s a practical wheels-on-the road, getting your legs and heart pumping way to get people moving.
Speaking of science, we will be monitoring and reviewing how much exercise through bike riding the teens are doing.
This aggregated data will be used to measure how effective the project is both in the short and long term. We won’t just be giving out bikes and walking away.
The Happiness Cycle is a really exciting project for us. Especially as the Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows a frightening 2 out of 3 people in this country don’t do enough physical activity! The tragic consequence is that half of those will unnecessarily suffer a major preventable illness.
It’s crucial to get teenagers physically active. It’ll be so much harder to make regular exercise a habit when they’re older.
Finally, I’d like to turn the tables, to send a message to all those sermonising from their pulpits out there.
I know we’re small which probably means you see us as weak: as someone you can intimidate and push around. I’m sorry but that’s not how we see ourselves. We are hell bent on getting more people physically active by riding bikes and we’ll fight hard to make that happen.
So instead of devoting your energies into trying to crush a not-for-profit, we offer an open invitation: come and join us in our fight against physical inactivity – we could use your support.
Teens targeted for health and happiness
24 July 2013. Bicycle Network today embarks on the first stage of a partnership with CocaCola in what will become a major national initiative to get Australian teens back on bikes, having fun, and regaining the habits of healthy physical activity.
The campaign will grow to be the biggest ever attempted and will eventually roll out nationally, beginning in Victoria this year.
Thousands of 15 and 16 year-olds of both genders will be asked to commit to activity goals in order to join the program. Initially, the teenagers will be selected on the basis of their leadership potential and the capacity to influence their peers in order to get fit and healthy and get the program rolling.
They will be given bikes equipped with digital devices that will record the details of their journeys and help them and their friends meet physical activity targets.
As the project grows the aggregated trip data from the bikes will be carefully analysed. Making use of actual result data to refine the program and re-ignite teenage interest in physical activity is a key tool to achieving success.
There is widespread concern at the decline in physical activity of teenagers, who need at least 60 minutes per day to be healthy and happy.
The new venture is a partnership between Bicycle Network, Australia's leading bike organisation, and Coca-Cola South Pacific.
Bicycle Network will manage the project in collaboration with Coca-Cola South Pacific, utilising its proven behaviour change methodologies.
The bicycle project is one of the commitments announced today by Coca-Cola South Pacific intended to help make a difference to the issue of obesity. CocaCola will also be offering more information, and choice as well as helping to encourage physical activity through this program.
The teen bike program is free of any product promotion and the bikes carry no branding.
Re-igniting teenage interest in physical activity
At least 1500 of the bikes will be placed with teenagers this year, and thousands more as the program expands next year.
The bikes will go to teens who commit to riding a minimum amount over four weeks, and to getting their friends riding. Bicycle Network will lead training in road safety and traffic awareness, and the teens receiving the bikes also commit to adhering to these principles.
Bicycle Network's General Manager of Behaviour Change, Tess Allaway said the project leverages peer influence to increase the impact of the campaign.
"The increased physical activity comes not just from the teen who gets the new bike, but from their friends and connections that join their mates and increase their level of bike riding.
"The partnership and support of Coca-Cola means that we have the incentives of the new bikes to get teens riding, and to keep them riding and to recruit new participants as they progress through the project."
Initially six communities in Victoria will be selected for the pilot phase of the program, which will start at the end of this year. Other communities from across Australia will be selected for phase 2 during 2014.
Selection of communities will involve the commitment of local government agencies and community groups in each locality. Bicycle Network will work with community groups and identify influential teens keen to give bike riding a go.
Studies have shown 60 minutes of regular, physical activity like bike riding, for at least four days a week, significantly lowers the risk of chronic illness later in life. These illnesses include Type 2 Diabetes, some types of cancer and heart disease. This type of physical activity also improves mental health and wellbeing.
Introducing regular physical activity like riding into the lives teenagers will stick with them as they get older giving them a healthier body and outlook on life.
They can ride their bikes to school, university and work—to visit their friends—giving them independence at an age when they don’t have a licence to drive.