Camp Teaches People with Disabilities How to Ride a Bike

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ICAN Bike Camp in Ames

McKenna O’Meara of Des Moines takes her first 2 wheel bike ride at ICAN Bike Camp in Ames

AMES, Iowa — Some Iowa State University students and recent grads brought a camp to Iowa to help people with disabilities to learn to ride a bike. Often for families with a special needs member, bike riding can get pushed to the back burner.

“We kind of think of riding a bike as something everybody gets to experience,” said Ciara McCarty, who is a senior in Kinesiology at ISU. “Sometimes people with special needs need a lot of extra time to master this skill.”

Campers met in different groups for five days at the All-Iowa Attack Basketball Center in Ames. The campers rode a special design bike, with a flat roller wheel to give balance security. Once the campers get some confidence, they switch to a regular two-wheeled bike, only with a handle so a helper can give balance security.

The goal is to have each camper riding on two wheels by the end of the camp.

This was the first such camp held in Iowa. The iCan Bike Camp is a program of iCan Shine, a national non-profit that serves nearly 3,000 people with disabilities.

For Michelle O’Meara of Des Moines, the week has been a huge encouragement for her daughter, 11-year-old McKenna. She recently finished the fourth grade, and has always wanted to learn to ride. Her whole family loves to go on bike rides, and so far McKenna has never been able to participate.

“This clinic is helping to give her confidence to be able to ride in the neighborhood with her friends and with the family, “O’Meara said.

Michelle was busy shooting video and cheering her on as McKenna took her first two-wheel ride.

After a brief celebration hug with her Mom, McKenna said “I love you Mom,” then got back on to ride some more.