Around 40 children and teens will learn how to ride a bicycle for the first time this week at the iCan Bike program hosted by the Down Syndrome Network at SpoFit.
According to icanshine.org, about 80 percent of participants in the iCan Bike program ride a two-wheel bicycle independently by the end of the five-day program. Around eight participants attend one 75-minute session daily Monday through Friday.
Rebecca Frederick-Jilg, a board member of the Down Syndrome Network, said the participants start out on an adaptive bike, and as they practice throughout the day, the back wheel narrows so the riders have to balance more on their own. Participants can ride on a tandem bike with a counselor during the second day and practice riding on regular bicycles outdoors the last three days.
Frederick-Jilg said that she finds this program especially beneficial to children with Down Syndrome because there is a large percent that have never ridden a bike.
“I think times are changing and this wonderful company figured out how to modify bikes so that the children can have a positive experience and learn how to ride a bike comfortably and not be afraid,” she said.
This is the first time the Down Syndrome Network has hosted this event, and according to Frederick-Jilg, the organization hopes to host it again next year.
“I think it helps with inclusion because our kids can be out riding in the community where before they might not have had that opportunity,” she said. “It also creates more family bonding because the kids are able to ride around with their families. And it creates more awareness because people in the community can now see the children out and about in the neighborhood doing something fun that they’re loving.”