Five electric bikes are to be acquired by Conwy County Borough Council to provide cycling opportunities for “hard to reach” overweight children. The initiative will cost £10,000, with the authority providing £5,000.
An officers’ report for Conwy’s cabinet said that 32 per cent of boys and 30 per cent of girls in Conwy are overweight or obese.
“Having run a pilot project on a smaller scale within a local school using traditional bicycles, the evidence was clear that e-bikes can help those with weight management difficulties to engage in sport,” said officers.
The e-bikes would enable participants, otherwise unable to ride up hills, to experience the outdoors and spend “less time on video games and social media platforms”.
“Long-term goals include making the transition onto traditional cycling and long-lasting health benefits including a lower body mass index,” said officers. “The project will involve allowing access to hard-to-reach children in the following categories: obese, clinically obese and morbidly obese with little interest in sport.”
Conwy has already run a programme to encourage “hard to reach” people to cycle. It involved more than 800 participants in its first 12 months, and the council says “significant” health improvements were noted. However, the adult e-bikes used in the trial were too large for children to ride.
Louise Emery, portfolio holder for economic development, said the e-bikes would be used in the fitness programme for long rides on roads, not easy circuits of a park.
“The alternative is that they just don’t go at all,” she said. “They don’t show up. They’re too embarrassed and they go and do whatever has caused their weight problems in the first place.”
Cabinet member Elizabeth Roberts predicted that the e-bikes would improve mental health for children whose weight prevented them from participating in physical activities.
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