I had the opportunity to volunteer at Bike First on Saturday. This camp has been happening in Portland for 4-years and my good friend is a HUGE part of why it came to Portland. Check out the website for pictures and stories... it is very moving.
This unique approach has enabled thousands of children, with a myriad of disabilities, to become independent bicycle riders.
I felt guilty as I did not want to go to camp... I had a horrible, stressful week with Pepe and I was exhausted. Knowing I would never let Ann down or those awesome kids, I picked myself up and was out the door... "just do it" played over and over in my head.
As I walked in I realized I was scared and nervous. The only prior experience I have with bicycles is a) my own... which isn't always pretty and b) my three children and 2 out of the 3 pretty much taught themselves. I took a moment to survey the grounds and decided that I would just do as I was told.
In come the first campers... quick stretches, up on the bike and we are off. After 1, maybe 2 laps around the gym I am running to keep up with my camper. Soon, we are called over to change the roller (this is very exciting).
** There are a series of rollers (I believe there are 6 of them) that campers progress through. Each one is shaped to give get them to balance and get closer to riding on 2-wheels. After the last roller, the camper moves to a 2-wheel bike) **
We keep progressing throughout our time; which is a short 1 hour and 45 minutes (yep, that's all the time we have to get our campers up and riding... keep in mind that a typically developing child will progress in 45 minutes).
ELATION... pure elation for all of us as my camper took off on 2-wheels. The smiles, the confidence, the independence created was amazing. I worked with 4 campers (and a few others in quick bursts) throughout the day. I worked with many volunteers; from adults (some teachers, some professionals, some parents) to teenagers... awesome teenagers). I left for the day EXHAUSTED... I still hurt... my toes hurt, my ankles are "frozen" each time I sit and then try to walk. There were times that I was "done", but there was no-way I was letting any of the kids and parents down. Yes, a few jokes were made over the muscles that were cramping... but that is just my way of pushing through the pain. The love and admiration I was able to take away from the day will be with me for a lifetime... this was a "lifetime" experience and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to participate.