Teenagers want to drive and younger children can’t wait to be able to ride a bike. Those with disabilities including kids on the autism spectrum are no different. iCan Shine, a charitable organization recognizes this and for six years has offered a summer program to help those children with disabilities learn how to rid a bike. Formerly known as “Lose the Training Wheels,” iCan Bike is a five-day long camp that helps teach individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities how to ride bicycles. Each camp nationwide, is hosted by a number of local disability awareness and community organizations. There are currently over 90 iCan Bike programs in 32 states and 2 provinces in Canada, serving nearly 2,500 with disabilities. In early July, the iCan Bike camp held its sixth annual program.
The camp strives to teach children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other disabilities, how to ride a bike without training wheels. Some programs provide specialized biking equipment while others do not, but all camps provide participants with a team of expert trainers. Each child attends a 75-minute session each day for five consecutive days, where 1-2 volunteers assist the trainers with each participant.
When it comes to participation and eligibility requirements, the individual wanting to attend must meet the following criteria:
– Be at least 8 years old
– Have a disability
– Be able to sit upright independently
– Be able to walk without an assistive device
– Be able to sidestep to both sides
– Be able to wear a properly fitting bike helmet
– Have a minimum inseam of 20″
– Be on or under the maximum weight (220 lbs.)
– Be able to attend the iCan Bike camp for all 5 days
Most camps cost between $200 and $250, but approximately 80% of the individuals who attend an iCan Bike program ride a two-wheel bicycle independently by the end of the five-day camp. The other 20% of participants still make tremendous progress towards the goal of being able to ride a bike with the help of parents and/or siblings as trained “spotters” to help pick up where the program leaves off.