From the saddle

The boys had to learn that smoking, earphones and music are not allowed while cycling.

Yiftach Sahar, One-to-One's cycling instructor at Wing of Love, says: "The behavior of the Wing of Love boys is more extreme than that of the other youth I work with, in every sense. At first, they constantly test my limits and challenge my authority, responding to frustration with outbreaks of aggression or running (or cycling) away. Yet their ability to relax, and their expressions of joy, love, and enthusiasm are also much more profound, genuine, and unbounded than 'normal' children. Their progress is really visible and working with them is rewarding." Sahar spent many weeks establishing discipline. The boys had to learn that smoking, earphones and music are not allowed while cycling; that they have to come on time and prepared; that they have to obey his instructions and respect both the bicycle and the other group members. None of this could be taken for granted. Sahar coped calmly with their power games, giving clear instructions and setting rules and limits. A boy who did not cooperate could not join the group. If a boy misbehaved, he was excluded the following week. Some weeks, very few boys actually went out. But his discipline paid off: the boys learned to join the activity on the instructor's terms and they learned to get the most out of cycling - and to enjoy it. Leadership skills emerge on the cycling trail. Boys who enjoy the activity encourage those who are being troublesome to behave well and cooperate. The boys come home with newfound self-esteem. The Wing of Love staff all report that cycling reduces the boys' aggression. Cycling has been particularly beneficial for three boys who have physical difficulties - two who are very overweight and one who has a limp - giving them a sense of achievement they rarely experience. Their enjoyment in cycling has prompted them to take an interest in nutrition and exercise. On bikes, they feel equal to their peers.