01/08/2017 - Professionally Speaking: A Biking Trainer’s Perspective Interview with Daniel Sheer, a Licensed Biking Trainer, who also serves as Negba’s Director of Public Relations in English Speaking Countries.
Life is much like riding a bike. There are often obstacles to overcome, or situations demanding intense effort. And though much of the course is individualized, there are many stages where teamwork is essential.
Negba has harnessed the potential of the bicycle as a vehicle for personal growth by incorporating a biking program into Negba’s Teen Club. Across the world biking is used as an effective means to empower youth at-risk. Virtually anyone can ride a bicycle; who hasn’t learned to do so as a child? Scientifically, one never loses the motor skill memory of how to pedal. And though one may be hesitant years later when trying to get back on a bike again, overcoming one’s fears and succeeding once more is a huge accomplishment. For teens at-risk who may not have achieved much in their lives, this alone can be a transforming achievement.
Like any sport activity, biking presents a physical challenge. But one need not be highly athletic or coordinated to do it. Physical challenges are easily tailored to the abilities of each rider and can be gradually increased in intensity when there is improvement. A teen rider can easily see progress results; for example this week s/he succeeded in riding a full one-kilometer circuit of Park Shnei Eliyahu in Beersheva taking only one break, while last week stopping twice.
Biking empowers teens at-risk because they take ownership of the riding. The riders must learn to navigate as they explore new neighborhoods, regions and parks outside their city. Each rider must be organized and take necessary supplies for each ride (water, snacks, helmet, spare parts, etc.). Each rider is responsible to maintain his/her bike before, during and after each ride, greasing the chain, inflating air in the tires, testing the brakes, etc. For teens who love to tinker, this is their opportunity to shine, and they can blossom with their technical skills and build their esteem among the group.
A group biking program teaches participants to put aside their individual needs and think about others, serving as an excellent means to build group dynamics and foster collective responsibility. If one teen gets a flat tire, the entire group stops and helps to repair the puncture. Other examples are the use of designated tasks that should rotate with each ride such as intersection “crossing guards,” and “trailers” who make sure no one is left behind, to share responsibility for the group’s safety. A good biking program also incorporates into its curriculum drills and activities that require pairs, small teams or the entire group to complete and solve exercises together. Biking is so much more than simply riding.
It is Negba's hope that youth at the Teen Club will pedal with confidence in the face of the difficulties in their lives. Through a structured group bicycle program they will improve their physical health, elevate their self-esteem, enhance their abilities to interact and contribute as a team player, develop an appreciation for the outdoors, and ride on to a positive future.
The Professionally Speaking column periodically invites a specialist to share a point of view on Negba’s activities and provide insight into the lives of Negba’s children.