Stars n Stripes are a not-for-profit group made up of Hackney parents trying out various methods to teach their kids how to cycle. Stars n Stripes believe that children learn better whilst having fun, they also love to dress up and role play, which is why they created the project Simulated Play-Road. Through this project not only will the children participants learn how to ride a bike without ever needing stabilisers, they will also learn to balance, break and stop whilst learning to ride safely.
Simulated Play-Road is aimed at families or children of all ages and abilities, so that everyone can participate in cycling together – even if you don’t own a bike. The play road is actually a combination of a pool of bikes and lots of ‘play road’ equipment in a simulated environment.
"Let’s reclaim community spaces for communities like this; we say kids don’t get out enough – pop up play is the way forward” – Natalie, project leader
The twist in the project is that Stars n Stripes will promote basic road safety awareness through the Simulated Play-Road which encourages roleplay and dress up, for example: lollipop ladies/men, police officers & workmen with real road signs, traffic lights, zebra crossing, bumps and much more. They encourage roleplay such as stopping for pedestrians, waiting for traffic lights and reading road signs. The aim is to encourage participants to explore cycling and road safety in a fun way, along with increasing time spent cycling.
They run twelve sessions a year once a month, and each session lasts two and a half hours and can cater up to twenty-five people on the ‘road’ at once. There are two van-loads of equipment, and teenage volunteers from a local estate, including two excluded from school. The project is continuingly getting parent feedback which also feeds into the project. The group have said that without the help and funding from TfL’s Cycling Grants London grant, it would have taken a lot longer to get started. However it’s now up and running and the participants just love cycling and getting on with it.
Giving advice to others thinking about launching a similar project, Stars n Stripes say to plan, test and deliver, and then speak to as many people as possible about the project and get feedback. Be determined and don’t give up, get support, meet your other social entrepreneurs, and believe in yourself!
To keep the project sustained after the grant period has ended, they will offer the play road to schools, nurseries and children’s centres who have the budget to book them. They have also started marketing campaigns to expand their exposure for community events, housing associations and tenant management organisations.
“People see me as a troublesome student; this takes my mind off things” – Volunteer, aged 14
“The project speaks for itself really. It’s important to us as there's a gap in reaching children this age. It is easy to get behind this idea” - Tyler, participant