On the right track

6 March 2019 | North West England

BMX BOX - Mollie Mae McQuilliam-Newnes, Tony Williams, Lucas McGrady, Shelby Shaw and Danny Robinson

Local community hero gets kids off the streets.

It’s the brilliant community initiative to get youngsters playing outside again and away from the clutches of gang culture in Liverpool. BMX BOX project in the Everton ward offers kids the chance to ride and maintain bikes at the weekend and during the school holidays. The project in the main offers a healthy alternative to kids who might otherwise spend their time inside playing XBox or PlayStation. But it also aims to offer an early intervention to kids who might be lured into gangs.

Children between five and 12 can ride the bikes, fix and clean them, take part in races, and help maintain the track. Free snacks and fruit are also provided.

Danny Robinson is the project leader who makes it all happen and an incredible example of where when people help people, everyone benefits. The trained therapist and cycling enthusiast, has been running the project with the support of the Friends of Everton Park, for three years. Hundreds of kids have so far benefitted.

“X-Boxes have stolen our kids,” he says. “And as a keen cyclist, I know how cycling can help in so many areas including good mental health. I want to help those in particular on the margins of our society.”

The project is just one run by the Peloton Cooperative, which Danny started with three friends in 2014 to help people facing challenges in the local community.

There are around 10 bikes available for the kids to use, all stored in an old shipping container. BMX Box also supports local schools, donating a number of bikes when it can.

Experienced riders mentor the young people and act as positive role models. They promote an ethos of camaraderie and are there to help the younger riders when they fall.

“We tell the kids it’s their park to maintain. And by doing that we can build a sense of pride. We have also been able to build a culture of respect not just for the bikes, but for the track, the park and of course of each other. If we need to do a litter pick, we do that, in fact kids love it. We break it down for them so it is easy to understand.”

“They are a great bunch of kids.”

One grandmother, who had been made the main carer of her three grandchildren, has had a visible impact on Daniel. Struggling to cope, one day she brought the children along to BMX Box.

“One child had Asperger Syndrome, one child had ADHD and the youngest had foetal alcohol syndrome,” recalls Daniel. “From the start they were all quite challenging in terms of their behaviour. But their grandmother stayed with them, she supported them. She was amazing.

“Now you wouldn’t recognise those children or even be able to notice they had a condition. The difference in just a few weeks coming here has been incredible. They have grown so much. The little girl who has alcohol syndrome, has been the biggest revelation. She just flies around the track now, and loves to be here.”

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