6 Aug 2010

Youngsters in Neath Port Talbot are taking to two wheels to help them take advantage of the borough’s hills, valleys and countryside. (Watch a film clip).

Extra mountain biking sessions have been provided at Margam Park for school children across the area.

Funded in partnership by Sport Wales and Neath Port Talbot Council’s Physical Activity and Sport Service (PASS), the aim is to give a taste of the off-road routes around the park and develop links to local clubs and biking projects.

Co-ordinated through the Mentro Allan project, the mountain biking sessions mean that even more youngsters can take part and try the sport.

029 Margan Mountain Bikes 2Picture: Simon Warren – Mentro Allan Officer at Neath Port Talbot Council – with youngsters from Cwrt Sart who got to mountain bike around the park as part of their activities week.

Mentro Allan – meaning venture out – is a collection of projects in Wales supported by the Big Lottery Fund that targets specific groups that are generally less active than the wider population.

Locally the project already runs outdoor pursuits such as canoeing and surfing, as well as mountain biking.

But the extended scheme now hopes to get more children on their bikes and offer opportunities from beginners to extreme biking.

Neath Port Talbot Mentro Allan Officer, Simon Warren said:

"The project is all about engaging in the outdoor environment, through activities and conservation.

"What we are trying to achieve is an extension of Mentro Allan and the sustainability of the activities. We want to develop mountain biking in Neath Port Talbot and set-up a sustainable club based here at Margam Park.

"The area is a fantastic environment for mountain biking and outdoor pursuits.

"Through the partnership between the council and Sport Wales we want to have stages of mountain biking so that we bring people through from the grassroots and ensure opportunities are there to progress.

"I find that mountain biking is very popular with local kids."

Professor Laura Mcallister, Chair of Sport Wales, commented:

"The area is blessed with such wonderful countryside and this is an ideal opportunity for us to take advantage of that in our partnership with the local authority. Extending the Mentro Allan project this will mean more children have the chance to take part and enjoy the sport."

Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council Ali Thomas:

"This is an excellent project to encourage school children to learn mountain biking skills. Taking part in exciting outdoor pursuits will persuade young people to become more active which, in turn, will lead to healthier lifestyles. What better location than Margam Park."

Watch a film clip.