Aug 22, 2023
How a Bellshill BMX park has impacted the lives of one mother and her autistic son
A BMX bike park built in Bellshill last year has become an outlet for her autistic child to focus his mind and let out energy, says one mother. Shona Bowie and her son Zac have spent the summer
A BMX bike park built in Bellshill last year has become an outlet for her autistic child to focus his mind and let out energy, says one mother.
Shona Bowie and her son Zac have spent the summer holidays visiting Bellshill pump track, which opened in Strathclyde Country Park last year - the product of a four year project.
“Zac gets so much out of coming here, it uses all his energy and focuses his mind. He’s got additional needs, so it’s given us something that his brain can focus on. It's somewhere he can feel safe and do all his madman stunts,” Shona explains.
Theirs is just one of several stories being told through Park Portraits, a series of inspiring tales which support a campaign to raise £1million to ensure the future use of Scotland's park.
The campaign led by Scotland's outdoor and parks charity, greenspace scotland is being backed by The Herald.
As well as the individual benefit Zac gets out of it, the BMX part has also offered the pair a sense of community, according to Shona: “It’s great for socialising as well - we’ve linked up with the guys from Social Track, and there’s such a good community feel, we feel so welcome here.
“We’ve been coming every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer holidays. Now that school’s back, he’ll be a wee bit time-limited but we’ll try to come down as much as possible.”
The pump track is used by Social Track, an organisation which tries to break the cycles of poverty through BMX and mountain biking.
Zac says: “The pumptrack is a good fun place to go, I come here and I just have fun jumping ramps. We come here twice every week right now.
“I used to borrow my bike from [Social Track] but then we bought it from them. I’ve asked if I can spray paint it red. I’ve made some pals being here, it’s just really fun.”
Part of the inspiration for the project in Bellshill was the success of a similar pumptrack in a deprived area of Wishaw. This prompted Social Track to begin discussions with North Lanarkshire Council over plans for a Bellshill track.
Read more: Scotland's first fund for safeguarding green spaces launched
Talking about the Wishaw track, Dan Scott, managing director of Social Track, explains the importance of something like a BMX park for a community: “When it was built, people asked ‘why are you building it here?’ But that’s who needs it, those are the kids who want the sense of community that a lot of young people don’t have.
“Even though our staff are bikers or skaters, youth care and social work are our background. The track had paid for itself in three months in the amount of preventative work it did.”
Mr Scott added: “It’s been so well used, we’ve had thousands of people visit – people are travelling up to 20 miles to come here, which shows just how much it was needed.”
“A lot of the kids don’t realise how good this park is, there are only two like this worldwide and it’s incredibly bespoke. It’s built by Velosolutions, which makes it the Rolls Royce of Pump Tracks. We hope to see more facilities built here and in Wishaw in the future.”
Parks4Life is asking people to donate online or by texting PARK to 70450 to make a one-off donation. The charity is not only asking people to reach in their pockets - but also to share their own Park Portrait to share the message of what green spaces mean to their community.