Girls on Bikes – A Great Ydea

19 March 2018

Eliza Hughes

Eliza is the Communications and Marketing Officer at YWCA Canberra

Great Ydeas is YWCA Canberra’s small grants program, providing up to $2,000 to women to help kickstart a great idea for a business, community development project, or to support professional development or education and training opportunities. Applications for the 2018 Great Ydeas program are open until 6 April, and in the lead up to announcing this year’s recipients in May, we’re featuring some of our amazing past recipients to highlight what can be achieved through the program.

Sophie Fisher received a Great Ydeas in 2017 for her project, Girls on Bikes, a free program that aims to mobilise migrant and refugee women in Canberra. Here, she tells us about her experience as a Great Ydeas recipient, how the Girls on Bikes project came together, and shares her advice for this year’s applicants.  

Tell us a bit about Girls on Bikes, and how you used your grant to get this great initiative up and running?

Girls on Bikes uses bike riding to enable fitness, strength, independence and a sense of community. The program includes a free bike and helmet, donated by community members and organisations, and a place in the five week learn to ride program. My Great Ydeas grant went towards our wonderful professional coach from Pedal Power, who led the women in the Girls on Bikes learn-to-ride program.

What were some of the positive outcomes that came out of the project?

The project brought ten migrant and refugee women from Canberra together to learn how to ride a bike, over a five week period. These women had little to no prior bike riding experience, and have built their confidence in learning new skills and getting outside of their comfort zone. A number of participants noted that they never thought that they would ever learn how to ride a bike.

Participants have also developed lasting friendships through the program, and indicated that they will continue to meet and catch up, including for rides.

We also sourced unused bikes from within the local community, and restored them and gifted them to the participants of the program, along with a helmet.

How the grant assisted you in reaching your goals?

My Great Ydeas grant was the driving force for Girls on Bikes. Having the support of YWCA Canberra and the accountability that a grant brings was the impetus for transitioning me from the mindset ‘can I make it happen?’ to ‘how will I make it happen?’

Tell us about the impact that Girls on Bikes made on the lives of women

The participants of the program were an incredible group of women and they were all thrilled with the benefits and opportunities that bike riding will bring to their lives. Many of them said that they will now be able to ride with their families and teach their children how to ride, so the benefits of this program for women and girls will likely permeate beyond the participants themselves.

What you learnt going through the process?

Although the program overall was a great success, there were things that didn’t quite go to plan or could have been more effective. In this sense, I learnt a lot from the program in terms of what we can do differently taking Girls on Bikes forward and more generally, the importance of being prepared to be adaptive and resilient when approaching a new project.

Where to from here?

The next step from here is to teach more women how to ride bikes! We are looking to run more programs in 2018, with some of our original girls on bikes coming back to help the new participants learn.

 Any advice you’d like to share with the next round of grant recipients?

My key piece of advice for the next round of grant recipients would be to enjoy yourself. Half the success is in taking the risk, putting your great idea out there and trying to make a positive difference, so just be bold and brave in wherever it takes you.

You can find out more about the 2018 Great Ydeas Small Grants program here, including how you can apply for one of this year’s general or specialised grants. Applications close Friday 6 April.

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