Children with dyspraxia learn to ride thanks to the Fire and Rescue Service

Youngsters with dyspraxia and other special needs worked during their school half-term with firefighters and road safety experts to learn particular skills, including how to ensure bicycles are roadworthy and how to ride independently.

The 12 children took part in five one-hour sessions at Abingdon College where they also learnt how to push bicycles safely and how to put a helmet on correctly.

They will demonstrate their new skills to parents at the college at 10.45am on Friday February 20, where children will be presented with certificates to mark their achievement by firefighters from the town's fire station.

The course was the seventh undertaken since The Children's Community Physiotherapy Service contacted the Fire and Rescue Service's Road Safety Team in 2012 to ask for such a course for children with dyspraxia.

Important skills learnt

Wendy Jennings, an Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service Road Safety Officer, said: "The children start off the course by learning to put a cycle helmet on correctly and they then gain confidence at every stage of the training. By the end of the training the aim is for all children to be able to pedal and stop their bicycle unaided.

"It may sound easy to most people but to a child with co-ordination and balance problems learning to ride is really a big achievement. The new skill helps their self-esteem and their confidence grows.

"The course leads to happy children who never thought that they would be able to ride a bicycle. Parents have also told us that their children can join in with a family bike ride and the skills learnt help them in manner other areas of their lives."

Making Oxfordshire safer

Councillor Rodney Rose, the Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, who also has Cabinet responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The council's Fire and Rescue Service works with all sorts of people to help make Oxfordshire as safe as possible and this is another example of positive interaction with children to help build their confidence whilst making them safer on the road.

"I would like to congratulate every child that has taken this course and I hope the skills they have learnt will hold them in good stead for the future."

People with dyspraxia can experience problems with manual dexterity and balance. Some with the condition experience sensory issues with touch and vision.

The course is part of Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service's 365alive initiative, which aims to reduce the number of road traffic casualties and fires through educational work with the community.