KidsInclusive Centre teaches independence through the joy of cycling

Sometimes, the journey starts with less of a step and more of the push of a pedal, as over 30 children as part of the KidsInclusive centre are learning as they work to master the art of cycling through a camp taking place at Constantine Arena this week.

A group of volunteers at the KidsInclusive cycling camp walk alongside an early rider. The bike features a tapered rolling pin style rear wheel to help teach balance. Photo by Tommy Vallier.

The iCan Bike program, now in its third year in Kingston, uses adapted bicycles, trained staff, volunteers, and a specialized instruction program to teach children with physical or developmental challenges the independence of being able to ride a bike. The week-long program operates four sessions daily.

A volunteer walks alongside one of the kids at the KidsInclusive cycling camp. Photo by Tommy Vallier.

“Kids start on a bike with an adapted rear that looks almost like a rolling pin,” noted Eric Marr, a bike technician with iCan Shine, Inc, a nonprofit who provides recreational learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities and developed the program. “Over the course of the week, the rear gets more and more tapered off, adding some wobble to the bike and giving the kids the chance to learn how to balance it in a safe way.”

Each of the cyclists are clients of the KidsInclusive Centre for Child & Youth Development at Kingston Health Sciences Centre and arrive with their own bike, with the goal of being able to ride it successfully by the end of the camp. “The program sees a 95 per cent success rate in teaching them to ride a bike,” mentioned Nancy Pike, a recreational therapist with KidsInclusive when we spoke at the arena on the morning of Tuesday, Jul. 10, 2019.

We’ll be seeing some big smiles on faces this week. We’re very grateful for this amazing collaborative effort of community partners and donors, which will open new doors for these children and their families.

Margaret van Beers, Director, KidsInclusive
A look at the customized bikes for Kids by iCan Shine. Some feature a replaced rear wheel with a support handle, others just have the handle. Photo by Tommy Vallier.

“Mastering a bike is a milestone accomplishment. It boosts their confidence and self-image, and it puts them on a more level playing field with their peers,” Pike said about the impact of the program. “This is about helping these kids become more active, and about building their sense of independence, which can then have positive ripple effects across the lives of the children and their families.”

Financial support for the program this year was provided by The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 560, along with the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF). First time gifts to the UHKF from the GoodLife Kids Foundation and the Johnson, Johnston and Macrae Investment Group at CIBC Wood Gundy through the Miracle Day campaign also contributed.

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