INDIANAPOLIS — Easterseals Crossroads is hosting its iCan Bike program this week to help kids with disabilities learn how to ride a two-wheel bicycle.
The local nonprofit organization is working with 40 riders ages 8 and older. They practice at Perry Park Ice Rink at different times during the day.
John Kelly, a father and avid cyclist, has been camp director for eight years.
"It’s a skill you can use your whole life. I am 52 years old, and I’m still riding my bike with my son every day. So every family wants to have that same opportunity," Kelly said.
Easterseals Crossroads partners with iCan Shine to use specialized bicycles that have rollers that replace the back wheels. Kids start with an easy roller until they gain more confidence.
"That technology of the roller bike is huge as far as giving them confidence right away and then the ability to gradually take away that support. Whereas, if you start out on just two wheels, it’s all or nothing. This makes a big difference," Kelly said.
The camp has about an 85-percent success rate. Even if a rider doesn’t get on two wheels, Kelly said many take home the skills they learned and continue to practice with their family.
One rider, 11-year-old Noah Gomez, was already on two wheels by Wednesday. Kelly called him a "rock star."
"It was amazing to see him build confidence and his self-esteem rising from his ability to ride a bike," said Megan Gomez, Noah’s mom. "He didn’t think he would be able to do it and here we are on day three and he’s on two wheels riding around this tennis court by himself. I definitely got emotional today seeing him do that."
The Gomez family moved to Greenwood less than a year ago. Megan said it was difficult during the pandemic when the neighborhood kids were riding their bikes and Noah was still learning.
"Last year, his kindergarten sister was able to ride a bike, so now we can all ride a bike as a family, and I am really happy about that," she said.
The camp has more than 80 volunteers, many being local high school athletes. Each rider has two spotters.
"I think it is just as special for them, and I think they get just as much out of it as the riders do," Kelly said.
You can find more information about the iCan Bike program here.
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