A POPULAR ‘Learn to Cycle’ programme is being brought to North Belfast for the first time with the help of a leading charity.

Autism Initiatives’ Balanceability programme for children aged 4 to 8 years and 9 to 17 years will run from July 18 to 22 at Duncairn Arts Centre.

It has been designed for children and young people with autism after the charity worked with hundreds of families to deliver their innovative version of Balanceability, allowing the delivery of skills that can give children with autism independence.

One parent said of the programme: “My son started the course and now rides his bike to and from school most days. Sometimes he even comes off his Xbox and goes out on his bike with his friends.”

Balanceability is the first and only accredited learn to cycle programme and helps to teach children and young people how to enhance physical literacy and master all aspects of static and dynamic balance. Led by two experienced support workers and delivered in local community hubs, the class sizes are small, thus allowing for a more autism-friendly experience.

Speaking about bringing Balanceability to North Belfast, Ciarán Corr, Marketing Manager at Autism Initiatives, said: “We’re excited to bring our much-loved programme to a new audience.

“After surveying over 200 families in 2015, North Belfast was identified as a hotspot where families were asking us to deliver our Balanceability course. When looking for suitable venues to partner with, Duncairn Arts Centre was a clear winner – providing the right facilities and atmosphere for children with autism.

“We look forward to supporting our next generation of Balanceability graduates to develop the skills that, in the long run, will improve their health and overall wellbeing,” he added.