A NEW cycling hub has been launched by yipworld in a bid to help improve the lifestyle of their staff, volunteers and local families.

The hub forms part of the group's 2019 Chain Reaction initiative and has been made possible by match funding from Paths for All, Smarter Choices Smarter Places.

Janice Hendry, yipworld chief executive, said they were excited about the project.

"Why did we choose to do this? Because we want to encourage healthy lives for our staff, volunteers and for local families," she said.

"yipworld is one of the local hubs young people visit on a daily basis during their social time therefore, it is a good reason to either put their skills to good use or to learn something new that contributes to a positive healthy lifestyle.

"We are excited about this new project. We will be recognised as a community cycle hub and to kick off in the February school holidays we have a programme of challenges and games for young people aged eight and up."

Depute Provost Claire Leitch – East Ayrshire's children's champion – thinks the new hub will provide disadvantaged children with new opportunities.

She said: "This will give young people the opportunity to ride bikes and give them opportunities they may otherwise not have had through no fault of their own.

"Giving young people the chance to get fit, active and healthy is fantastic because, in turn, it has really positive actions for their mental health and for raising attainment."

Peter Gilchrist, head teacher of Cumnock Academy, agreed adding: "This will increase the health and wellbeing opportunities for young people. A lot of young folks don't have access to bikes and a lot have costs because their friends don't have it and they don't want to be seen as different.

"Here they have the opportunity to be part of a big group so it's a teamwork ethic, a health and wellbeing ethic where it looks at their physical wellbeing as well as their emotional wellbeing."

Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP Jeane Freeman – the Scottish Government's health and sport minister – feels that the initiative will be the kick start the some people need to improve their lifestyle,

She said: "This is a really good opportunity. Just about everybody, if you asked them if they want to be more active, would say yes but most of us don't get past that good thought and into how do I actually do it.

"Lots of young people come here and now with yipworld as a community hub for cycling, young people can move beyond 'yes I want to' and try it out. Given yipworld's track record of being at the heart of this community, they will be successful in this."

Former Olympian turned South Scotland MSP Brian Whittle added: "It's all very well us high faluting people up in Holyrood saying 'we want people to be physically active'. Having a bike is a fairly significant barrier to not being able to cycle.

"Now that we are brining that ability into the community, many more people will be able to have a go. Hopefully it will expand and expand and expand as word gets around and more kids get onto bikes."

"I can't praise enough what they are doing at yipworld. I might even bring my bike down here."