Bicycle camp helps disabled children lose the training wheels | Events
For most kids, learning to ride a two wheel bike is right of passage, but for children with disabilities it's a landmark that is often not reached. One Spokane mom is working to change that and has brought a national bike riding program for kids with special needs to our city.
The program is called iCan Shine and it's all about teaching children with disabilities that they can indeed master difficult tasks, even one as difficult as riding a bike without training wheels. Casey Traver has been trying to get her 13-year-old daughter into the Seattle camp for several years.
“It's something others take advantage of,” explains Traver. Her daughter has Down syndrome and hasn't quite been able to master a bicycle. All her daughter wants is to be able to ride with her twin brother who has been participating in SpokeFest for the last couple of years.
“It's just that sense of freedom that comes with being able to go out on your own on two wheels,” Traver says. Instead of waiting yet another year for a shot at getting into the iCan Shine bicycle camp, Traver decided to bring one to Spokane.
The national non-profit hosts camps in 32 states across the country and sends out bike trainers with specialized training bikes that are more suited to the needs of children with down syndrome and autism among other disabilities. The goal is not only to teach the children that they can ride a bike, but to change their attitude toward tackling difficult skills.
When the Autism Society of Washington Spokane Affiliate heard that Traver was bringing iCan Shine to Spokane they jumped on as a partner, excited at the prospect of bringing the program to our region.
“They've been a terrific partner,” says Traver. The Red Lion Inn at the Park donated hotel rooms for the bike trainers and Mt. Spokane High School provided a location for the clinic at a price that was key in cutting down the budget so the camp could happen.
Traver is a pediatric occupational therapist and has been spreading the word about iCan Shine throughout therapy clinics and schools as well as with her own friends. So far, 29 students have signed up to lose the training wheels. They have space for 35 kids, but as of now they don't have enough volunteers. With the current registration 15 more volunteers are needed, if all the slots are filled they will need an additional 12 volunteers.
“It's an opportunity to change someone's life,” explains Traver, who adds that 80 percent of kids with autism never learn to ride a bike, for children with Down syndrome it's higher at 90 percent. For many of these children, including Traver's own daughter, not being able to ride has a huge impact on their confidence and self-esteem.
“It's hard to be cool when you're on a trike,” says Travers. Being able to conquer a two wheel bike for a disabled child enables them not only to have fun and get some exercise, but to keep up with peers and to feel like they fit in.
“I'm really excited,” says Traver. “It's been a long time coming.”
Spokane's iCan Shine bicycle camp will be at Mt. Spokane High School August 12th-16th. The camp still needs volunteers and is hoping to raise an additional $800 to cover the cost of putting it on. For more information click HERE, to volunteer contact Casey Traver by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.