The Down Syndrome Foundation of Florida has partnered with iCan Shine, formerly Lose The Training Wheels™, to bring Central Florida much more than just a bike-riding program. The mission of this camp is to teach individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities to ride a conventional two wheel bicycle and become lifelong independent riders. This achievement, in turn, creates a gateway of opportunity, helping them gain assurance and self-reliance in many other aspects of their lives. For many people, it’s a seemingly impossible task to master but with this program 80% of the participants usually do it in less than a week’s time. Within days of learning to ride, many individuals begin exhibiting independent behaviors at home. This achievement, in turn, creates a gateway of opportunity, helping them gain assurance and self-reliance in many other aspects of their lives.
Their adapted bicycling program had its genesis in the more than 20 years of research by Dr. Richard E. Klein and his students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Richard retired from his academic career at the University of Illinois in 1998 and the first bike camp was held in 1999 in LaCrosse, WI. In the ensuring years, Dr. Klein and his wife, Marjorie, invested a significant portion of their lives in growing the program to three fleets of bikes and approximately 30 camps in 2006. Today these camps are held in 80 cities around the USA and Canada. With their new identity, iCan Shine, they plan to expand their program offering to include other activities such as swimming in 2014.
Learning to ride a bicycle can be a frightening endeavor. At iCan Bike camps, children learn to balance, pedal, steer and take off on their own, many in five days or less – a feat parents say is nothing short of miraculous, considering many struggle for years to teach their children how to ride a two wheel bicycle.
When you enroll your child in a iCan Bike camp, they will be assigned to a 75 minute riding session which they will attend each of the 5 days. During this time they will ride a bicycle that gradually introduces the natural instability of the bike as each child is ready. They will be assigned one or two volunteers who will serve as their “spotters” to provide physical support, motivation and encouragement. While all individuals learn at their own pace, some will be ready to ride on two wheels as soon as the third day of camp, and historically more than 80% of children who attend our camps are able to independently ride a bicycle by the end of the five days.
The goal of our program is to teach individuals to ride such that they can be independent riders. In other words, they have sufficient riding skills that they can start, ride and stop their bike without any outside assistance.
If you would like to enroll your child in a iCan Bike camp please review the requirements for participation and indicators for success below and refer to our schedule for information about how to enroll in each of the camps we are currently offering.
To ensure the safety of our participants and the best use of our limited resources we have established certain criteria that all participants must meet to be eligible to attend a camp. These criteria are:
It is important to consider behavioral issues as you evaluate your child’s suitability for this program. A participant may be physically able to ride a bike, but if their behavior is such that they cannot be persuaded to get on the bike and follow instructions, then it is likely this program will not be beneficial. Individuals with severe behavioral issues may be removed from the program if their actions are detrimental to the overall function of the camp or potentially harmful to themselves or others.
The abilities listed below indicate the likelihood of any given participant’s success in learning to ride a two wheel bicycle at a Lose The Training Wheels camp: