Program Helps Disabled People Learn To Ride BikesPosted: Updated:
Maggie Steele is a teenager with Down Syndrome. For the first time, she's learning how to ride a bike.
It's made possible through the iCan Bike program that travels across the country and has now made its way to Watertown.
There's a special bond at this camp - the one between Maggie and her mentor.
"Angela is my friend and she's helped me a lot," said Maggie.
Angela Niger works in the Carthage School District as a special education aide. She's devoting her week to volunteer and help Maggie learn how to ride.
"Why would I not want to be here? This is just such a great environment and seeing them have fun. This is what it's all about," said Angela.
The Trisomy 21 Foundation of Northern New York brought the program to Watertown. The program is made up of daily 75-minute sessions. Volunteers guide the riders along the track to offer support and make sure they're keeping their balance.
Over the course of five days, organizers will periodically change the size of the roller on the back of the bike, so that participants will learn how to ride by the end of the week.
"Their back is straighter, their head is up high. They're not scared. Their self esteem and confidence levels just go out the roof by Friday," said Kelly Barns, iCan Bike technician.
If you ask Maggie, she'll tell you Angela has been a huge help, boosting her confidence to get her riding independently by the end of the camp.
"It's good for the kids to be able to recognize that they can do this and it's not as hard as they think it is," said Angela.
Thanks to this program and its many volunteers, what used to be "I can't" becomes "I can" and "I did."