- Associated Press - Saturday, June 16, 2018

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - You can probably remember the first time you took training wheels off your bike and felt a wave of confidence rush through you.

The nonprofit charity iCanShine is making sure children of all abilities get to have that same feeling.

Marshall University’s eighth annual Lose the Training Wheels Camp was held this week at the Phil Cline Family YMCA. Before children took to the parking lot with their new-found skills, the training began indoors.

iCanBike, a program offered by the nonprofit, provides children the opportunity to learn the basic skills of riding a two-wheel bicycle from the ground up. iCanBike bicycle mechanic Ben Risemberg said the program teaches from varying stages of difficulty and skill level.

“We have riders that range from all kinds of ability. We start them on roller bikes and gradually decrease the stability on the back of the bike,” Risemberg said. “We go from about the stability of a trike when it’s very stable on the back to the stability of a two-wheel bike to where it’s leaning a lot. We gradually make that change over the course of five days.”

Risemberg, who has volunteered for countless day camps with iCanBike in cities across the country and even into Canada, said the experience is no less rewarding this time around.

“You see a transformation every single week. Every day you get a little bit closer to the end goal - (riding) independently,” Risemberg said of his experience with similar camps. “Eighty percent of our riders, regardless of where they started at the beginning of the week, end up riding a two-wheeled bike independently by the end of the week.”

Volunteers from Marshall University came to help throughout the week, taking shifts throughout the day. Each child learning to ride was accompanied by two volunteers who walked or ran side by side with each biker as they rode in circles around the gymnasium, oftentimes absorbing the impact of an accident or, in other cases, intervening to avoid a similar situation.

Marshall University exercise science major Sam Meadows was a first-time volunteer with Lose the Training Wheels Camp. Meadows, a volunteer at other area day camps, said this one was especially attractive to her because it taught participants a relatively difficult skill.

“Helping anyone out is rewarding to me, and I love being involved with (those who have) special needs,” Meadows said. “I found out about this (program), and specifically learning this skill, I know it can be so challenging.”

After experiencing iCanShine firsthand, Meadows said it was clear that the program had all the necessary parts to make the week successful and one she won’t soon forget.

“It’s amazing. The people that put this program on are super helpful, and the equipment is phenomenal for these kids,” Meadows said. “It gives them more confidence. A lot of them don’t even recognize their own progression, which gives them even more independence.”


Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com

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