Friday, August 21, 2009

Learning to Ride Just Like Everyone Else

Everyone should know how to ride a bike, right? For some children and adults with disabilities, it can be a tricky thing to learn. It takes good balance, confidence, and coordination. My son, Colin (age 12), gained all that this summer by participating in the week-long Lose The Training Wheels program at Union Grove Elementary. The national program was brought to this area by the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin and the Down Syndrome Association of WI. It uses special equipment to modify real bikes so that the rider can ease into two wheels gradually.

I work for the Autism Society and also volunteered to help "spot" several of the other riders. Both Colin and I came out at the end of the week glowing! Colin could ride! He's so proud of himself and he has a "need for speed," so he loves his new-found freedom of zipping around on a bike. I was touched by the participants I worked with. One was a young woman, fifteen years old, and mostly non-verbal. By the third day she was riding a bike for the first time in her life and we all knew she was happy when she broke out in song as she went around the parking lot. I couldn't help but join her in a few verses of "Michael, Row The Boat Ashore!"

I'll carry the memories with me always of the other kids and parents, the wonderful volunteers, sponsors and staff, and Colin will continue to glow with pride as he rides his bike, just like any kid his age knows how to do!

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