Kids get chance to learn to ride on two wheels
Published Monday, July 22, 2013 6:49PM EDT
Learning to ride a two wheeler is tough for most kids. It's virtually impossible for some others.
But this week in Barrie, some special kids are getting the chance to finally try to ride a bike.
Nicholas Roach is an accomplished swimmer, soccer player and track and field athlete but riding a two wheeler is a skill the 12 year old is still working on. His mother Dianne says Downs Syndrome makes some things challenging for Nicholas.
“Nic can't go bike riding with his friends in the community and most of his friends are normally-developing children,” she says. “He would love to go jump on his bike and go for a ride with the gang. He can't do that yet, hopefully at the end of this week he will be able to jump on the bike and go out with his friends.”
Nicholas is one of 21 children between the ages of eight and 12 with special needs taking part in a program called "I Can Shine" at the Holly Recreation centre in Barrie this week. The goal here is to learn how to ride a two-wheel bike.
The bicycles the children are using are more stable than a regular two wheeler because the rear wheel has been replaced with a tapered roller. As the rider gets the feel of balancing and steering, the rollers can be changed to slowly build the confidence of the young riders until they are on two wheels.
The system is the invention a cycling enthusiast and professor of mechanical engineering from Purdue University in the US. Hannah Langdon says the program has an 80 per cent success rate.
“We say everybody makes progress,” she says. “We do have that other 20 per cent. A lot of parents will go home and work with them after camp. We say Friday is not when camp ends, so we get a lot of stories from parents who get their riders independent a week or two after camp as well.”
The camp is hosted by the City of Barrie and is the last one of six that have taken place across Canada this year. Roach says riding a two wheeler is a major milestone for every child and a little success here becomes something to build on.
“They can be successful in other areas of their life,” she says. “They can be successful in school, in their friendships, in their jobs, in their communities.”
The camp continues all week and there are still a few spaces available. The goal is to have the kids riding on two wheels by Friday.