Monday, June 27, 2016

iCanBike Cambridge!

Thanks to Nina Katz-Christy for her Guest Post about her iCan Bike experience. I recently met Nina at our annual Adaptive Recreation Fair in Brighton, MA and was delighted to meet such a young person already on board with facilitating adaptive recreation in her community. The power of volunteering changes lives!

A few years ago, I decided to volunteer at Arlington’s first iCan Bike Camp. These camps are hosted all across the country through iCan Shine, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching individuals with disabilities to ride conventional two-wheel bicycles. When I signed up to volunteer, I had no idea what to expect. The first day, I was very nervous but quickly got to know the riders and other volunteers. I immediately fell in love with the program and continued volunteering for the next few years.

Last year, I talked to the program’s host and she mentioned that there was a long waiting list for the camp, but she didn’t have enough space to accommodate all of the riders. This conversation eventually led to a friend and I hosting what will now be Cambridge’s first iCan Bike camp, taking place this August 15 - 19, 2016. Although this seemed like a daunting task, I could never have imagined the amount of work required to host a camp. I learned that there were many more behind-the-scene details than I had noticed as a volunteer. However, despite its difficulties, I have also met and worked with amazing people through this experience, such as the wonderful family lending their house for the week of camp to host staff, the director of iCan Shine, Jeff Sullivan, who responds to emails quicker than seems humanly possible, the director of the Arlington camp, my friend Zaida Block, who works tirelessly alongside me, and my family, who help me get through the stress that comes with organizing one of these.

I have been inspired by volunteers, parents, and riders. From a boy who hadn't spoken all week saying his first word to me on the final day of camp, to a boy I was spotting spontaneously yelling “I feel free!”, I have formed relationships with riders I will forever remember. I have continued to meet with one of the riders I worked with at this year’s camp in Arlington to work on his riding. Although he is not quite riding independently yet, he is always enthusiastic when I see him, constantly making jokes while he rides. Despite his positive attitude, however, there are times when he wants to stop before we have worked for very long. When he is unmotivated, his parents never cease to amaze me with their creative games to encourage him to keep going. Learning to bike is a process that can take many people working together, each utilizing their unique strengths, and is truly amazing to be a part of.

This year's day camp will have 40 riders that come for 75 minute sessions each day of the five day camp taking place at The Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School War Memorial Building on 459 Broadway in Cambridge.

To learn more about our camp, register, or sign up to be a volunteer spotter, please visit:

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