The Happiness Cycle is encouraging high school students from all over Australia to get physically active through cycling, with more than 6,000 teens participating in the program since it first began in late 2013.

Originally created by Coca-Cola and the Bicycle Network, the initiative is currently in its second year. Joining forces with the Beacon Foundation in 2014, an organisation which supports schools in disadvantaged communities, the Happiness Cycle Team expects a further 3,000 students to participate in the program over the next 12 months.

“The Happiness Cycle is built on the fundamental principle that health and happiness are intrinsically linked. There is widespread concern at the decline in physical activity of teenagers, who require at least 60 minutes per day to be healthy and happy,” said Craig Richards, CEO of the Bicycle Network.

Research suggests 63% of teens are active less than once a week.1

“By giving young people the means to make physical activity a part of their everyday lives, it’s more likely that exercise won’t feel like a chore,” said Mr Richards.

The Coca-Cola Happiness Cycle program encourages teens to get active.

The Coca-Cola Happiness Cycle program encourages teens to get active by giving away free bikes and hooking them up with the HappiCycle app, where they can challenge themselves or their friends with distance, times and elevations, while earning badges.

The Happiness Cycle in action

The Happiness Cycle is giving more teens the chance to make bike riding a part of their everyday life.

Since its launch in December 2013, Happiness Cycle events have now taken place in almost every state and territory across Australia. Every teen that registers to attend an event gets a free Reid bike, along with maintenance training and safety tips to help them get the most out of it. Teens also learn how to build their very own bike. Plus they learn core riding skills on a specially built obstacle track.

After building their bikes and learning some cool new skills, 43% of teens that participated are riding 3-5 times per week, significantly higher than the national average.

Teens receive hybrid Reid bikes

The Happiness Cycle program has grown and evolved following its first year of achievements. In 2015, teens received hybrid Reid bikes, suitable for road and mountain terrain.

Learning responsibility and independence through the joy of owning a bike

It’s fair to say that most people in Australia have a fond childhood memory of learning how to ride a bike ― it’s an important rite of passage that helps development. And then there’s the memory of that feeling of freedom you get as a teenager, exploring your neighbourhood on a bike.

“To think that so many teens from socially disadvantaged backgrounds miss out on this,” said Mr Richards. That's why the Happiness Cycle is so special ― it goes beyond physical activity. It helps teens feel a sense of ownership and pride.

“Our experience running the program has revealed that sadly, so many teens have never ridden a bike before, let alone owned their very own bike. So it’s wonderful to see the excitement on their faces when they receive a brand new bike to keep.

“There’s always a little apprehension to begin with, but after a few hours connecting with their peers in a group atmosphere while learning new skills that require physical, mental and social focus, they leave with a newfound sense of mobility and community.

“Ages 15 to 16 are the perfect years to start to build independence ― it comes to the fore pretty quickly with a bike,” said Mr Richards.

Young people recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Australia’s Physical Activity Guidelines for young people aged 13–17 years, recommend at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.

Western Sydney’s Minto kicked off the 2015 program

Western Sydney‘s Minto hosted the first event for The Happiness Cycle in 2015, where Coca-Cola, in partnership with the Bicycle Network and The Beacon Foundation, provided brand new bikes to over 800 teens.

Roberto Mercade, President, Coca-Cola South Pacific, was at the event. “I was blown away by the energy and passion of all involved. We were all really excited to have BMX World Champion and Rio Olympic hopeful, Sam Willoughby, on board as ambassador to teach the teens some expert cycling skills.”

Regional Queensland Happiness Cycle – Logan

Deputy Mayor & Councillor, Russell Lutton, was there to see the program in action.

“It’s hard to describe the look on all the kids’ faces and to many of them; these bikes are their new pride and joy. I grew up on a bike and it was such a huge part of my childhood and our national identity back then. This program has done a wonderful job of bringing bikes back to Australian childhoods and instilling that sense of freedom and adventure I had as a kid.”

“We have a very multicultural community so one thing that really stood out to me was how the Happiness Cycle has linked us together. Travelling to and from work, I see the kids riding around, looking happy and energised. What’s more, giving kids a means to connect and demonstrate responsibility helps them become good community members. It is truly a winning initiative for all involved,” said Mr Lutton.

Teens construct their new bikes.
The Happiness Cycle in Knox, Victoria saw 884 teens―the biggest group to date―take part in safety activities, bike maintenance workshops and, of course, the construction of their new bikes.

Next stop…

The program will continue to move across Australia with the closing 2015 event scheduled to take place in Glenorchy, Tasmania.

1 Based on survey of 2.2 million participants. Source: Gemba Active Sports Participation Study.