‘ican Bike’ week-long sum­mer camp in Hol­land strives to help kids with dis­abil­i­ties learn to ride

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By Cary Beavers

HOL­LAND - Bike rid­ing is a skill that is too of­ten taken for granted. It’s some­thing that most kids just do. But it’s also some­thing that some kids just can’t do.

Kids with dis­abil­i­ties of­ten can’t ride a bike in­de­pen­dently, for ex­am­ple. In­spired by those chil­dren, iCan Shine, a national or­ga­ni­za­tion that strives to pro­vide “qual­ity learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties for in­di­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties,” ac­cord­ing to its web­site, de­vel­oped a pro­gram called iCan Bike. The pro­gram will hold a camp Au­gust 5 – 9 at Hol­land Mid­dle School. The camp Ls sSHFL­fiFDOOy GHsLJnHG IRr NLGs ages 8 -18 with de­vel­op­men­tal and phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties who have never been able to mas­ter rid­ing a bike.

Stephanie DeSouza is the lo­cal di­rec­tor for the iCan Bike pro­gram.

“Bike rid­ing is a rite of pas­sage for many kids, and chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties have a hard time mas­ter­ing the skill,” DeSouza said. “Not be­ing able to ride with their friends can re­ally cre­ate bar­ri­ers for them.”

The week­long camp, which will take place Au­gust 5 – 9, will at­tempt to tear down those bar­ri­ers. Each cam­per will be ac­com­pa­nied by two vol­un­teers on the phys­i­cally de­mand­ing (for the vol­un­teer helpers) path to learn­ing to ride in­de­pen­dently. The campers start out on spe­cially made bikes that in­clude a roller on the back to help chil­dren bal­ance. The bikes also have a pro­trud­ing han­dle that the vol­un­teers can grasp if they need to sta­bi­lize their rider.

(DFK rLGHr wLOO DWWHnG RnH RI fiYH, 75-minute ses­sions each day. The pro­gram, for­merly called, “Lose the Train­ing Wheels” is de­signed to SLOWLY tran­si­tion the rider from de­pen­dence on the roller, han­dle and vol­un­teer – also called “bud­dies” to to­tal in­de­pen­dent rid­ing on a reg­u­lar bike par­ents pur­chase from the store. Par­ents are en­cour­aged to pur­chase that bike by the mid­dle of camp.

“They’re on a bike the en­tire time,” DeSouza said of the rid­ers. “They have the same buddy ev­ery day, so they can build a rap­port with them.” Par­ents are re­quired to stay on the side­lines – no mat­ter what.

“There’s not a lot of cod­dling,” DeSouza said. “Par­ents stay off to the side and they get it. They just want their kids to ride so badly. They don’t mind let­ting some­one else step in to the role of teacher.” DeSouza and the vol­un­teers re­al­ize that fall­ing could be part of the process, but don’t let learn­ing process.

”When kids fall of the bike, we cel­e­brate it, and they get right back on the bike,” DeSouza said. “Some­times kids are so afraid of fall­ing, and if they see blood, they can go into panic mode. But our phi­los­o­phy is, get that kid back on that bike.”

Each ses­sion will have six rid­ers,

it stop the mean­ing a max­i­mum of 30 rid­ers will par­tic­i­pate dur­ing the week. That means that each iCan Bike ses­sion needs 12 vol­un­teers – or 60 for the week. Not ev­ery­body is up to the phys­i­cal task of be­com­ing a vol­un­teer, even if their heart is in the right place.

“It’s tax­ing phys­i­cally,” DeSouza said of the job of vol­un­teerL buddy. “They need to be in re­ally good shape. A lot of vol­un­teers last year were kids who played soc­cer or ran track.”

In ad­di­tion to be­ing phys­i­cally able to keep up with their rider vol­un­teers must be at least 16 years old. Re­quire­ments for the rid­ers in­clude be­ing at least 8 years old and no more than 220 pounds. They must be able to walk with­out an as­sis­tive de­vice and able to wHDr D SrRSHrOy fiWWHG ELNH KHOPHW. The camp also has tech­ni­cians who ad­just the bikes ac­cord­ing to each rider’s abil­i­ties. DeSouza said ad­just­ments have been made af­ter as short a time span as 40 min­utes.

Regis­tra­tion is open through July 15. To reg­is­ter or vol­un­teer or for more in­for­ma­tion, visit ican­shine.org.

Two vol­un­teers as­sist an iCan Bike rider dur­ing the 2012 camp.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.