It’s the freedom you get from riding a bike that Hobart teenager Nellie loves most about cycling.

“I just love the wind on your face,” said Nellie. “It feels so good to be in control of something else rather than yourself. You can go wherever you want.”

Nellie said she hadn’t ridden a bike in years before she signed up as a volunteer for the Learn, Earn and Turn program held in her local suburb of Glenorchy in November.

“I rode before I went and I remembered how to ride - it felt really good. It was a lot different to how I remember riding bikes,” she laughed.

According to fellow volunteer Tait Fraser, boredom is a big problem for young people in Glenorchy. “This is a great way to give people hands on experience and kill their boredom for a couple of hours,” he said.

“If we get people out on their bikes and into the community people aren’t going to think that all Glenorchy people are antisocial. And it’s a great fitness thing.”

Together the local council, campaign partner Bicycle Network and Coca-Cola Australia Foundation put on two vocational skills training sessions in advance of the Happiness Cycle event day.

While Nellie started the morning at the sign-in desk, most of the day she spent in hands-on roles. “I was helping people build their bikes, tightening up parts before they got their bikes checked so they could ride them,” she said.

As well as building bicycles, volunteers pitched in fitting helmets, serving lunch, and fielding questions about cycling from kids often more comfortable with quizzing fellow young people than adults.

Nellie said the vocational skills training program went really well. “It went way better than I expected it to go… I had so much fun.”

Both Nellie and Tait learnt to ride bikes as young children. While Nellie’s bike-riding lapsed until the Happiness Cycle motivated her to start pedalling again, Tait’s love of cycling led him to downhill mountain biking, an adrenalin-inducing sport popular in Hobart.

When he’s not hurtling down Mt Wellington on his downhill mountain bike, Tait uses the Happiness Cycle bike he built to get from A to B.

Nellie said that since the vocational skills training sessions were held in November, she and her mum, one of her regular cycling partners, have spotted the distinctive red Happiness Cycle helmets all over Glenorchy.

“I’ve also noticed more people riding on the bike track now that I’ve been involved in it,” she observed. “I thought that maybe they wouldn’t be wearing their helmets but everyone is still wearing their helmets which is good to see.”