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iCan Bike: Teaching Kids with Disabilities to Ride Bikes

Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage. However, teaching kids with disabilities to ride bikes may be difficult. That’s because the process of learning to ride a bike doesn’t account for accessibility. So, parents may not teach kids with disabilities to ride a bike at all, or kids with disabilities may become discouraged. In response, iCan Bike is trying to make it easier to teach kids with disabilities to ride a bike. The program is designed to help kids with disabilities ride bikes using special techniques and adaptive bikes.

How does the iCan Bike Program Work?

iCan Bike is part of the iCan Shine charity. iCan Shine provides various recreational opportunities for kids with disabilities. The iCan Bike program gives kids with disabilities chances to learn to ride bikes.

While in the program, kids learn to ride bikes using an adaptive roller instead of a back wheel. As the kids progress, the size of the roller is diminished until they can ride using a regular back wheel. Riders in the iCan Bike program learn to balance, pedal, steer, and ride on their own. They often learn this in five days or less. In fact, 80% of riders learn to ride a bike independently by the end of the week. The other 20% make great strides. Their progress means that, even though they don’t get to keep using the roller wheel once the program ends, the kids learn important skills to continue riding a bike outside of the program. Also, many of the camp volunteers choose to keep working with riders after the program ends. They enjoy teaching kids with disabilities to ride bikes.

In order to participate, riders must be:

  • At least 8 years old
  • Able to sidestep to both sides
  • Able to walk without an assistive device
  • Maximum weight of 220 lbs
  • Minimum inseam of 20” (51 cm)
  • Willing and able to wear a properly fitted bike helmet

Additionally, although iCan Bike provides bikes fitted with the special equipment, riders must also bring their own bike. The goal of the program is to have kids riding their own bikes by the end of day four.

Hosting iCan Bike

In order to run iCan Bike, hosts, such as communities or school boards, must pay a fee to iCan Shine. The fee includes two staff to run the program. Volunteers are usually local people interested in getting involved in the community or students at the host schools.

Program hosts can choose whether or not to charge a fee to riders or cover the entire cost. If there is a cost to families, it is communicated ahead of time.

Hosts can choose between a camp-style program or an after-school workshop. The two programs have differences, such as:

  • A camp program is five days long, where an after-school program is only two sessions
  • Anyone who wants to volunteer at the camp may do so, provided they meet conditions, whereas an after-school program’s volunteers are associated with the host school
  • The camp has better success rates due to the length of its program

Why Should Kids with Disabilities Learn to Ride Bikes?

Firstly, riding a bike is enjoyable for all kids. A disability should not be a barrier to learning how to ride a bike. Also, bike riding is good exercise. Kids with disabilities need to exercise and burn energy just as much as any other kid. Also, learning to ride a bike will instill confidence.  This is especially true for kids who may have struggled to learn to ride a bike in the past.  Riding a bike is also inclusive since kids can ride with groups of friends. A disability should not be a barrier to learning to ride a bike.

iCan Bike Makes Bike Riding a Reality

Learning to ride a bike is an important event in a kid’s life. Kids with disabilities can also learn to ride bikes with the help of programs like iCan Bike.  For parents and caregivers who have longed to teach their kids with disabilities to ride bikes, iCan Bike is a great help. iCan Bike adds to our community as it promotes inclusion among our kids.