Updated: May 14
That day a teacher at a pupil referral unit, who uses her love of mountain biking to inspire disconnected kids got in touch to ask if she could use our logo! (Hint; It was a good day :))
When Dom asked me to write a short blog, I was like ‘yeah, no problem!’ but then I sat in front of the computer and drew a blank. It’s not like I had nothing to say, but putting my inner thoughts, aspirations and passion into words. Well! Let’s just say the procrastination sure did kick in.
My name is Jo; I am a keen mountain biker, who is often out ridden by my 10-year-old step daughter, as she tears up the trails. I have the honour and privilege to teach students that mainstream school had excluded them from. I am also fortunate to be have been appointed Chair lady of a local advocacy group, Yorkshire Trail Collective.
I am lucky in life that I now live in the North of England where without much trouble I can be admiring the wonderful sites of the Peak District or watching the sunrise over the Yorkshire Moors. You see I have always had a passion for outdoor adventure. When I was very young before we moved to the city, my family lived literally in the middle of nowhere, with the next house about 3 miles away. My brothers and I would simply call out to my Mum, were reminded to be home for dinner, and wander off to the local woodlands and fields to explore and be ‘wild children’ Being outside is in my blood, it is where I am happiest. A feeling I wanted my students to have the opportunity to experience.
Having mainly experienced negativity in their educational journey, and not always being given the opportunity to truly flourish or feel understood, had become extremely disengaged with learning. This set me on a one-woman mission to give these guys learning opportunities through avenues that they could relate to, that they would enjoy, that would make them feel positive about learning and valued in what they do.
I ride a mountain bike and often ride it to work, each and every time I do, my students, ask to ‘have a go on it!’ (which the answer is always "Yes of course!") and then they question my ability to wheelie or do wicked jumps…sadly I can do neither, luckily it has not tarnished my cool teacher rep! My students LOVE mountain bikes! I LOVE mountain bikes…. Can you see where I’m going? This was my avenue; Mountain biking was my vehicle to get them engaged. I started with giving them a taste of the Peak District, introducing them to an arena some did not even know existed. I was questioned by one of my students ‘Have you ever seen such a wonderful sight Miss? They engaged better than they ever had, they were polite to strangers and embraced the;"Be nice, Say Hi" mantra, and within minutes of meeting different groups of people, they had won them over. People that may very well have dismissed them having seen them in another setting. They went home exhausted telling their parents they had had the ‘best day ever’ – This is what the outdoors does for the soul. This simple activity of riding a bike opened the doors to much more learning across the curriculum. It led me to Trash Free Trails.
Yorkshire Trail Collective, allowed me to team up with one of our committee members and British Cycling coach to create an exciting opportunity. Alongside coaching, I wanted to develop awareness and understanding of protecting our wild places and preserving their places to ride for the future, what better way to do this by incorporating the Trash Free Trails ethos.
I reached out to Dom to simply ask permission to create a scheme of work for my students using the Trash Free Trail logo, that would enable my students to become ambassadors, to stick their fingers up to the system, in a positive way. To give them a platform to build their self-esteem and to encourage aspiration for their future. How lucky was I that Dom, absolutely understood my vision and embraced fully what I wanted to achieve not for just my students, but the possibility for students across the nation, and the world (Dom likes to think BIG!). These students of mine who quite often believe they will not amount to anything, would gain a positive self and environmental awareness, to become pioneers for this new educational program adventure. To be the first to enter the TRASHMOB Academy!
I devised the program to consist of 5 sessions that go alongside a British cycling coaching session. Each session has a different national curriculum subject focus that also incorporates Citizenship, British Values and Physical Education. All delivered through interactive lessons, which allow for the students to actively engage and stay interested and focused.
The academy doors open on the 10th September 2020 at Leeds Urban Bike Park. I am beyond excited to be working alongside Trash Free Trails to see the impact and change of attitudes towards littering and protecting our wild spaces with my students. I have high aspirations for them!
Watch this space as I continue to share our progress through the weeks, and I hope that, like me, you will want to take this into your community and create your own TrashMob of the future.
If you are interested in getting involved with the development of our TRASHMOB Academy Programme please drop Dom an email at email@example.com.