iBike returns to Quaker Valley for fourth year in a row
Beaver County Times - 6/19/2018
June 19--SEWICKLEY -- One of the most tremendous moments of childhood is when mom or dad lets go and you realize that you are finally riding a bike on your own, but for many children with disabilities, such as autism and Down syndrome, that isn't the case.
According to the iCan Shine website, more than 80 percent of people with autism and 90 percent of those with Down syndrome will never learn how to ride a bike. With the help of the iCan Bike program, however, nearly 80 percent of participants have found success.
Lauren McGuirk, Quaker Valley Middle School assistant principal, and Jason Harrison, a learning support teacher at Quaker Valley Middle School, have helped direct this program for the past four years at Quaker Valley, with the help of multiple volunteers and sponsors.
"We're very lucky to have so much local support," said McGuirk. "A program like this usually costs upwards of $15,000, but with the help of sponsors like Target, Dick's (Sporting Goods) and SweetWater Bicycle Shop, we are able to provide the program for free to participants."
The program is split into five daily, 75-minute sessions with four participants each. According to McGuirk, of the 20 participants each week, 80 percent will be able to ride a bike by the end of the week, which she says is largely thanks to its volunteers.
"Our volunteers usually come from the high school, so that relative closeness in age definitely helps the kids relate more to them. However, we've had people as old as 75 help out with the event, so it's really something anyone can help out with it they want to," said McGuirk. Harrison added that more than half of the volunteers from this year are returning from last year's camp.
"This program is phenomenal. I never thought I would see her riding a bike, and within a few days, they had her riding one," said Dewey Johnson of Mount Washington, about his daughter Isabella. "I tell everyone about this program and how awesome it is that we have it in the area."
Upon completion of the camp, each child is provided with a bike of their own to take home and try out their new skills on.
Anyone interested in learning more about the program or how to donate can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-749-5077.
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