Making dreams come true one kid at a time.
Remember learning to ride a bike as a child? The helmet snug on head, hands gripping the handlebars, pedaling with uncertainty, but also an unexplainable joy?
Sadly, “80% of people with Autism and 90% of people with Down Syndrome” never get to experience this according to iCan Shine. Volunteers such as seniors Alex Jakubczak, Erin Bauman, and Brian Callegari worked side by side with children teaching them the control and joy of riding a bike.
The iCan Bike event, which took place at East Lyme Middle School, was a program sponsored by The Miracle League in order to teach children with disabilities how to bike. There, each rider was taught the balance and skill necessary to ride with the encouragement of a volunteer.
Jakubczak enjoyed “motivating kids, spotting them to make sure they feel safe, and making a connection with the kids so they feel comfortable with you and will be more willing to ride a bike.”
Helping these children learn how to bike is rewarding for both volunteer and child as a sense of independence, confidence, and inclusion is formed along with a form of exercise and transportation.
“Overall it was such a rewarding experience. You forget how much you take for granted…like riding a bike. It was really amazing to see kids smile and feel a sense of freedom and accomplishment from being on their own bike,” said Bauman.
The program started August 13 and ended August 17. There were five sessions that lasted 75 minutes each with a total of 32 riders and almost three volunteers per rider.
“For me, I made some new friends among the volunteers and especially the riders. After spending a week with the riders you really develop a friendship. It’s also inspiring to see riders start off with very little experience and have them be independent riders by the end of the week,” said Callegari.