TAKOMA PARK, Md.– The iCan Bike Camp isn’t just any ordinary bike camp. It is a program that teaches kids with disabilities how to ride a bike in just five days.
“We take it for granted,” said Lucy Neher, the coordinator of the camp in Takoma Park, “but it’s a huge accomplishment.”
The goal of the camp is to provide a sense of independence and accomplishment for the young participants who have never had the opportunity to ride a bike before.
Sessions at the camp will last for 75 minutes every day for each of the five days.
Special practice bikes are used to train the beginning riders when they first begin to ride. These bikes have roller wheels on the back that are slightly tapered to help balance but still catch them if they fall. As the riders progress, they get to use smaller rollers until the end of the camp week when they learn to ride a conventional bike by themselves.
“[By learning to ride,] they can feel more independent and more confident,” Neher said. “It’s really important on so many levels.”
One of the camp’s previous participants, Zev, learned to ride for the first time at the camp and later got to ride with Neher to his school for Bike to School Day.
“The training showed how the gap between special needs kids and others can narrow to nothing with just a little training and a lot of goodwill,” said Heather Hurlburt, a camp parent. “And my son still proudly wears his T-shirt and rides his bike.”
As a part of the non-profit iCan Shine organization, iCan Bike has over 80 locations across the United States and its location in Takoma Park has been running for four years. The camp is open to any disabled person age eight and up, while volunteers must at least 15.
The iCan Bike Camp will be located at Takoma Academy, 8120 Carroll Ave, in Takoma Park, beginning on June 18 and ending on June 22.
Both riders and volunteers are still welcome to sign up. The program is free and registration information for participants and volunteers can be found at https://icanshine.org/ican-bike-takoma-park-md/