A primary school in Jarrow is encouraging the local community to cycle more, in an effort to improve health and wellbeing.

As part of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School’s Better Health at Work initiative, which has seen it be awarded gold status, Better Health at Work advocates became involved in Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival scheme which engages local communities to become active through bike use.

With cycling becoming more popular during the pandemic, St Mary’s currently opens its doors on set Sundays to provide Dr. Bike sessions where parents, staff and other members of the local and wider community can go along, loan a bike or receive free safety checks or repairs to their own cycle.

Susan Smith, office manager at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, said: “We know it’s an incredibly difficult time for everyone so it’s great to be able to offer a service that boosts the wellbeing of our local community, both mental and physical.

“The grants received from Cycling UK has enabled us to hold Dr. Bike sessions where we’ve been able to check people’s bikes, fix them or, in a lot of cases, loan people bikes to get from A to B.

“Over the last few months, lots of different people have used our bikes such as families for days out, parents going to work and back, including keyworkers as well as those simply wanting to try a new form of exercise and relaxation.”

St Mary’s has also promoted the benefits of cycling within its school community and the importance of health and wellness. The school is part of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust which places a big emphasis on improving the physical and mental health of its pupils, their families, and its wider communities.

St Mary’s, alongside the other schools within the trust, hold regular campaigns to promote wellbeing and the importance of staying active and well. Activities include mental health awareness events, keeping fit initiatives and healthy eating promotion.

Marie Graham, executive headteacher at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, said: “By removing several financial and social barriers to cycling, everyone including families as well as young and older people can enjoy the sport and the health rewards it brings”.

“It’s great to see how involved our children, staff and their families aim to lead healthier, more active lives.”

“The children of St. Mary’s have always viewed cycling as fun and an enjoyable way of getting to school and playing out with their friends”.

For more information about the Dr Bike sessions that are held at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, please email soffice@stmarysjarrow.co.uk or call 0191 489 8336.