EAST PEORIA, Ill. — A long-time program is once again giving children who have difficulty learning to ride a bike a better chance at pedaling away to their heart’s content.
“We just love the excitement of the kids and knowing that they can go from not knowing how to ride to just being able to get on their bike and go to their friend’s house down the block, or go on a family bike ride,” said Tammy Wright, executive assistant with Easterseals.
For some of these children, it’s their first time on a bicycle. Thanks to Easterseals offering the iCan Bike program, they get five days to enjoy the learning process.
“Some of them come in really timid and afraid, they don’t even want to put their bike helmet on, on Monday. By Friday, we are outside on that track, and they are hustling, and we are running alongside them and so it really is just a great opportunity for them,” said Wright.
Wright says thanks to a team of volunteers looking out for their safety, the participants can conquer their fears and keep pedaling.
“We have over 50 volunteers here helping us throughout the week, every day, and the training with ican Bike staff, they just really get them on there, and they get going and once they start, their fear goes away and they just take off,” said Wright.
Becky Detrempte is happy to see her daughter Jocelynn having fun and trying new things.
“She’s never been able to ride a bike, she’s always tipped on training wheels, and didn’t really have balance, and to be able to see her out here with all of these other kids, doing the same thing as everybody else, has just been an amazing experience,” said Becky Detrempte, parent.
From Monday through Friday, the group progresses toward a bike with minimal balance support. Volunteer Abbie Bourscheidt explains how the bike keeps the rider from falling.
“Instead of having a back wheel, it has a roller, and in the first time, it’s not really tapered, it’s equal all the way around,” said Bourscheidt.
If they get used to that setting, volunteers gradually adjust the bike as the riders learn to gain balance. Wright says it’s all a matter of letting the kids ride away feeling included and empowered.
“It’s my absolute favorite, it’s why I keep coming back. This is my fourth year, and I just love it, I love seeing how some kids can barely pedal on Monday, and then on Friday, they are up and on two wheels and running around the track, it’s awesome,” said Bourscheidt.