Neighbors | Alexis Bartolomucci.Volunteers helped riders learn how to ride a bicycle during the iCan Bike program hosted by the iCan Shine organization and the Down Syndrome Association of the Valley.
Neighbors | Alexis Bartolomucci.Volunteers passed out trophies, a certificate and a backpack to the riders involved in the iCan Bike camp at Glenwood Middle School.
Neighbors | Alexis Bartolomucci.A rider rode his bike around the Boardman Glenwood Middle School gym as one of the volunteers helped him.
Neighbors | Alexis Bartolomucci.Children rode bikes around the gymnasium at Glenwood Middle School with the help of the volunteers during the iCan Bike camp.
Neighbors | Alexis Bartolomucci.The riders and volunteers took a picture together as they finished the iCan Bike camp on June 23 at Glenwood Middle School.
By ALEXIS BARTOLOMUCCI
The Down Syndrome Association of the Valley partnered with iCan Shine to bring the iCan Bike program to Mahoning Valley.
From June 19-23, individuals with disabilities had the opportunity to participate in the fourth annual bike camp at Boardman Glenwood Middle School. This year, there were 25 riders from 8-years-old to 51-years-old. The program is run by volunteers and many of them are students who are planning on working with individuals with special needs in the future. There are also parents and family members who volunteer their time.
iCan Shine and DSAV are both 501(c)3, nonprofit organizations and use money they receive from sponsors and donations to host different activities. The Youngstown Foundation has played a huge role in the program by helping out the DSAV and providing funds for them to host the camp. DSAV is grateful for all of the funding they receive to help those in the community.
“It opens up a whole other world for them because it’s a form of exercise. For adults it can be a form of transportation,” said Debbie Williams of DSAV, who coordinates the camp.
All of the riders start out using the same bike and then as the riding skills progress, they move on to bicycles that are more advanced. The riders go through the progression at their own rate. The program has an 80 percent success rate with teaching the participants how to ride a 2-wheeled bicycle by the end of the camp.
“It helps the volunteers understand and help to work with kids with disabilities,” said volunteer Cat Clarkson.
“This is a good experience for him because he never learned how to ride a bike before,” said volunteer Blake Clarkson.
The Clarksons are twins and are volunteering for the first time because their brother Nicholi is a rider in the program. They enjoy being able to spend time with him while helping him learn how to ride a bike.
While some riders are coming for the first time, there are some who have came before. Williams has worked with the families and volunteers to try and set up some of the volunteers that are willing to help out the children outside of the program. This way the children still are working on riding their bicycles after the camp is over.
“This is my fifth year with the program. We got to impact 23 children and adults this week and we got to impact their families and siblings and friends. It goes beyond just the riders we have at the camp,” said Emily Horn of iCan Shine.
The last day of camp, all of the riders went on the two-wheeled bicycles. Some needed more help than others, but this showed the progress and that the riders have been successful during their time at camp. When the riding was over, all of the riders received a certificate, a trophy and picked out a backpack.
DSAV is looking forward to continuing this program and helping out those individuals with disabilities accomplish something in their lives.