Next week, we’re excited to be catering lunch for iCan Bike, a program that is truly making a difference in the community. iCan Bike is a five day long instructional program that teaches children and adolescents with disabilities to ride conventional two wheel bicycles. Held at the University of Richmond, what makes this program so special isn’t just that 80% of participants learn to ride bikes at the end of the week, it’s what they gain by taking part in it. By learning to ride bikes, the kids are participating in a fun activity that many of their peers already enjoy doing, which helps them to build confidence, gain social interaction, and get in some good exercise at the same time.
This is the eighth year that iCan Bike has taken place in Richmond, and also the eighth year that Richmond Hope Therapy Center has hosted the event. Sarah Ann Jennings, Practice Supervisor for Bon Secours Virginia Health System, says that iCan Bike week is one of the best weeks of her entire year. “I’m lucky enough to work for an organization where I always feel like I make a difference in people’s lives, but this week brings it really close to home,” she says.
Over the last seven years, this wonderful program has helped hundreds of children and young adults learn to ride bicycles. During the week, riders will each participate in one out of the five available 75 minute sessions each day, between Monday, August 10 and Friday, August 14, and based on their progress and development, trained staff and volunteer “spotters” will challenge them gradually in order to help them get closer and closer to their goal.
Each rider is paired with two spotters on the first day, and they stay with those same volunteers throughout the week in order to develop trust and a positive relationship. The riders use innovative, specialized equipment provided by iCan Shine, iCan Bike’s mother organization, that helps the riders naturally learn to balance on the bike. Often, this experience ends up being nearly as great for the volunteers as it is for the participants, because they become invested in the kids and feel a sense of pride when they succeed.
When it comes to the riders, the self-confidence they gain from this program spills over into many other aspects of their lives. By learning to ride bikes, as Sarah Ann says, “They get the same sense of pride and accomplishment that anyone who achieves a goal after a lot of hard work experiences.” But, “more than anything,” Sarah Ann says, the most touching aspect of the iCan Bike Program is “seeing how proud the children are of themselves.” If that doesn’t touch your heart, we’re not sure what will.
Groovin’ Gourmets is proud to be catering a healthy lunch for such an inspiring group of bikers and volunteers. All of the available slots for riders have been reserved, but iCan Bike is still in need of volunteers! If you’re interested, you can get more information and apply by following this link