iCan Shine is a non-profit organization that inspires those with disabilities to grow through gaining skills in movement and play. Each disability is unique, and dedicated people work with these fighters to help them achieve their personal goals.
iCAN BIKE CAMP
iCan Shine has developed programs which other places can choose to host; iCan Bike is one of the spin off camps that uses a support group of community volunteers. Through a safe and encouraging environment, it’s an opportunity for disabled individuals to learn how to ride a conventional, two-wheel bike. Research shows a majority of those with Autism and Down’s Syndrome never learn to ride a bike.
By breaking up goals into smaller bits that can be achieved a little at a time, participants develop “a sense of iCan.” Camps and other programs like this help build recreational skills that inspire individuals with disabilities to get out there and conquer tasks they once thought were impossible. By the end of the week, 80 percent of students can successfully ride. And learning to ride a bike is quite the appropriate summer activity!
Volunteer “spotters” guide pupils around on specialized bikes, keeping riders stable, until they are comfortable to push beyond their current limits. Appropriate precautions are taken, and training is specific to what each person needs. Since 2007, 20,000 people with a variation of disabilities have learned to ride through the program.
Our Local Camp
For the third year in a row, Alpharetta hosted the iCan Bike camp, from July 17-21. The fun took place at The Cooler Alpharetta Skate Center, an indoor environment which created a great escape from the heat for all involved. “During iCan Bike, participants are fitted with a specially adapted bicycle, which they practice on until they are eventually ready to ‘graduate’ to their own personal, two-wheeled bicycle, without the need for adaptive devices,” says Officer Amanda Clay of Alpharetta Police Department’s Bike Patrol Unit.
Members of the Alpharetta, Roswell, Milton, Sandy Springs, and Brookhaven police departments, the Alpharetta Rotary Club, Bike Alpharetta, and the Young Men’s Service League pulled together to make it a spectacular week.
“Jadon was 8 years old when we went last summer,” says his mother, Tovi M. Ringland. “It’s hard to put into words how much we appreciated this program and all it did for him. At the end of the week, Jadon was able to balance and ride.” Ringland hopes Jadon, who has autism, can attend the camp again, in the future.
Why it’s Awesome
Self-esteem is a crucial part of life, and the socialization and accomplishment that comes along with events like iCan Bike can be a substantial tool for building that confidence. “The looks on the faces of the riders, as well as those of their family members, when they learn to ride are truly priceless, and why the members of the Bike Patrol Unit seek to host this amazing event,” adds Officer Clay.
“Being a police officer is hard work, and getting to spend a week doing this camp is an awesome reminder of why most of us entered this profession in the first place: to raise the quality of life of all of the citizens that we come into contact with,” says Clay. “The camp is an amazing opportunity for families of those with special needs to meet one another and form friendships that last a lifetime. It also teaches those with special needs how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle without the need for adaptive devices. This means that for some families, they can ride bicycles together for the first time ever. Those of us who have never struggled learning to ride a bicycle might take this simple act for granted, but for those with special needs, riding a bicycle can open up a whole new world and level of independence. ”
Community donations fund the entire program, and tuition for people who can’t afford it. The Alpharetta Rotary, Publix, Bike Alpharetta, The Cooler, and Comfort Inn-Alpharetta are local supporters. Individuals can donate online at ICanShine.org/make-donation. Be sure to select the Alpharetta camp!
Volunteering at your local camp can be an enriching way to “give back” as well. It’s an exciting five days for everyone involved, filled with laughs, play and plenty of triumphant moments.