Raising three children with autism is far from an easy task but thanks to a local cycling initiative, that job may have become a little easier for one Yorkshire family.

Adele Reed-Griffiths, of Keighley, has three young children on the autism spectrum and a few years ago, had been looking for ways to get her family out of the house and get active.

Adele was keen for them to learn to ride a bicycle but found the children struggled to take to the new activity, with lessons not always the most suitable for people with autism.

But then, Adele was made aware of the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries scheme through a support group, and found a teacher adept at helping children with special needs at the AWARE library in Addingham.

“Life is very challenging with three children on the spectrum,” said the mother of three. “It’s very hard work. They don’t mix very well and I get very tired trying to split myself three ways to look after the children.

“When the opportunities do arise for the children to get out, I jump at the chance - it’s very rare we do something with all three children together.

“At the Yorkshire Bank Bike Library, they have had the opportunity to learn to cycle.

“We couldn’t possibly do that before with our children. We’ve battled, we’ve tried, we could never get them cycling.”

The teacher that Adele found at the AWARE library in Addingham was Chris Armstrong, a Bingley man who also set up a Yorkshire Bank Bike Library called BeCycling in his hometown.

The qualified instructor wanted to help all children enjoy cycling from an early age and was able to help Adele’s children on recycled bikes donated through the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries scheme.

There are 49 such libraries across Yorkshire that have so far created over 50,000 chances for children to ride a bike, but it was in Addingham that Chris helped change a family’s life.

“When I met Adele, she was saying that the children have been to cycling clubs before but perhaps didn’t mix too well and found it quite a stressful experience,” said Armstrong.

“It’s been good to be able to provide a relaxed atmosphere, where the kids have been able to learn at their own pace without any pressures.

“It’s great to see some of them, who have perhaps been written off and told that they are not going to be able to ride a bike, and they have become very skilled riders now.

“It’s fantastic to see that independence now that some of us take for granted.

“On a personal level, seeing Adele’s children and the other kids who have come to the Aware Yorkshire Bank Bike Library learn to ride has really filled me with a sense of achievement.

“It has been great to see the progress that they’ve made over time.”

The Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries scheme has so far seen over 5,000 bikes donated and aims to give every child in Yorkshire free access to a bike or the opportunity to learn bike maintenance, regardless of circumstance.

Cycling is one of those opportunities that should be available to all and with Adele’s children now proficient cyclists who regularly attend a cycling club, the benefits to her family are huge.

She added: “Thankfully, Chris, through the Yorkshire Bank Bike Library, has been able to get all three of my children cycling.

“A door opened and it was fantastic for us as parents – we got the chance to meet other parents. We got the chance to chat to others in similar positions.

“My children were happy, I was happy, and it was like a new lease of life.” 

To find out more about Adele’s story, please visit www.ybonline.co.uk/bikelibraries