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iCan Bike Camp goes all week long to teach kids with autism and down syndrome how to ride a bike

iCan Bike Camp goes all week long to teach kids with autism and down syndrome how to ride a bike
Posted at 6:48 PM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-22 19:48:18-04

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — Learning how to ride a bike is an important step for any kid. But for those with special needs, learning how can be a challenge. However, one program aims to make that teaching process easier for both parents and their children.

“He started off pretty slow and cautious, but he has picked up his pace now, it's pretty fun to watch,” said Julie Wood. She is Henry’s mother. 10-year-old Henry is learning how to ride a bike. He has down syndrome and for children like him, learning how to ride can be challenging. “Sometimes that motor processing, the coordination of the pedaling and the steering all at the same time can be really difficult for kids with down syndrome,” said Wood.

About 80% of kids with down syndrome or autism never learn how to ride a bike. But the iCan Bike Camp hopes to teach 80 kids with those special needs in just one week. “To see them get on a bike for the first time, to see them progress throughout the week and then to see them basically riding a bike without training wheels by Friday, I mean it really is a heartwarming experience,” said iCan Bike Camp Director, Joe Pilakowski.

And each rider is encouraged to go at their own pace. “Putting a helmet on sometimes for the first time, getting on a bike is very new but as they go through and every day you see the confidence,” said Volunteer Coordinator, Kelsey Sheridan.

But this camp aims to do more than just teach kids how to ride a bike. They hope the skills they learn here can help them in the future. “If they have a job in the future they can hop on a bike and take them there so there's a lot of independence in that too,” said Sheridan.

And for Wood that's a great thing to see. “We're just really grateful to all the volunteers and staff that come out and help all these kids because it's an amazing opportunity and things that we can't do for them on our own,” she said.

The iCan Bike Camp could always use more volunteers. Sheridan said volunteers’ primary job is to provide safety. They make sure riders are turning corners and are providing the break. The bikes provided don’t have breaks. And volunteers are there to motivate the riders alone the way to make sure they are having fun and that they want to continue to ride in the future.

To volunteer you can either sign up through the iCan Bike Camp Facebook Page or email volunteer@autismnebraska.org. Volunteers are needed for Tuesday starting at 11:30 a.m.