The Peoples-uni Blog is asking readers to share news articles that have caught their eye. Tonight, Fiona Reynolds (a volunteer with the Leadership Group who supports our work with our accrediting partner) highlights an article on girls' cycling.Youth Olympics: Rwandan teenagers cycling out of poverty (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/28826059)The article (by Caroline Rigby) focuses on the Rwandan girls’ cycling team, interviewing two of the riders who recently competed in the Youth Olympics (Benitha Uwamariya and Clementine Niyonsaba). It also highlights the unexpected benefits in providing girls with bicycles – they are able to stay in school longer and delay having children. The article discusses how unusual it is to see girls and women riding bikes in Rwanda. Women and girls are also less likely than men to cycle in the UK for a range of reasons - some of them linked to concerns about safety when riding bikes on the roads. However, we also have some very high profile riders who have been successful like Victoria Pendleton, Laura Trott and Sarah Storey. At first, I thought this article was going to be focusing on the challenge of achieving sporting success for individual women. I don’t usually read the sports pages of newspapers or website but articles about cycling usually catch my eye - I just don't expect them to have an interesting Public Health focus beyond encouraging physical activity. I’m a Consultant in Public Health who doesn’t like sport or fitness classes but I cycle five miles to the railway station every day to get to work – that’s not exercise, that’s transport. What I like to see is news about cycling as a part of people’s everyday lives. It’s a cheap means of transport – opening up access to skills, training and work (which are essential to improving Public Health) – and this article is a great example of this kind of opportunity. This article is a reminder that improvements in Public Health can be achieved through some of the most unexpected means. In this case, cycling isn’t only a means to sporting success for Rwanda (though that’s great), it isn’t only about encouraging physical activity to improve health and fitness: it’s a means to improve girls’ and women’s access to education opportunities. We know that improving girls’ education is essential to improving a population’s health and that means not just teaching them but helping them to get there. In short this, the lesson is to consider all aspects of a community’s needs before imposing a solution but also to take advantage of the solution that seems to come out of the blue. This is a very interesting Public Health article that just happens to be on the sports pages of the BBC website. I’m not sure how I stumbled across it but I’m glad I did. I should probably read the sports pages more often! Have a look at the article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/28826059

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