ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – We all remember the day when we learned to ride a bicycle and the extra achievement when that ride stopped involving training wheels. Helping North Texans with special needs achieve that goal is the focus of a unique week-long event in Arlington.
The Down Syndrome Partnership of Tarrant County is hosting its 3rd Annual Lose the Training Wheels bike camp at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).
By weeks end, some 140 volunteers will help teach North Texans disabilities (ages 8 and up) how to ride two-wheel bicycles without training wheels.
“From the moment that the riders come in they taste success,’ bike camp floor supervisor Sharon Colantonio said of the students. “As they begin to progress through the system of rollers that we use… they then can transition to conventional bikes where they’ll be riding independently.”
Lose the Training Wheels™ is an organization that travels across the United States and Canada hosting the bike camp events.
While the UTA event is a partnership with the Down Syndrome Partnership of Tarrant County, Colantonio says volunteer’s work with all kinds of camp participants.
“We also have riders that have autism, traumatic brain injury and other types of disabilities.”
The camp is a progression and has riders using modified equipment until their skill level allows them to pedal away on a traditional bicycle.
North Texas mother Shuryl Stuckly said she couldn’t be happier for her son, Raymond. “It’s given him a lot of self confidence. It has given him some independence and allows him to be just like all the other kids,” she said.
During the 2011 bike camp there was an 87-percent success rate among riders. Volunteers are hoping to improve that number is year.
If riders like young Bryce Segars measure success this year’s camp should shatter records.
“I like the riding part,” he said enthusiastically, after completing one of the 75-minute sessions. “It gets us exercise in, helps us with key skills like balancing and turning.”
Bryce’s mother, Stacie, said she is thankful for the program because it’s helping her son reach new heights.
“We’ve tried several times, on our own, to do it, but he just couldn’t get it,” Stacie said of her 11-year-old son’s efforts. “This program has really helped him.”
This year’s camp had accommodations for 35 participants and all the slots were filled. There is now a waiting list for interest in the 2013 bike camp – contact the Down Syndrome Partnership of Tarrant County for information.
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