For kids who learn to ride bikes, there comes that moment when the training wheels come off. And for kids with autism, it’s a little more difficult. But there’s a local program that’s helping to make it easier.
The UNYFEAT organization is always trying to look for ways to improve the quality of life with children with autism and on Wednesday, they took advantage of special bikes to help kids build confidence and exceed their own expectations.
Noah Svokos said, “I was a little nervous, but then it got pretty easy.”
That’s what you would typically hear from any child who just learned to ride a bike, but for those who may need a little push, the feeling is even more intense.
Just days ago, children with autism would have never thought they could ride a bike on their own. But after five days of training and with a little guidance, they will soon be ready to take off.
Tony Svokos, Noah’s dad, said, “It’s a real blessing to know that there are people out there who understand this and who are working to make these children’s lives better as they grow up better and easier.”
The loss of training wheels bike camp was designed to help with children with autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities ride a bike without training wheels. With special bike riding equipment, and a team of volunteers, these kids will learn steering, balance and a whole lot of courage.
Conner McKenna, a volunteer, said, “We’re just here to help them to try and just better themselves and get more confidence about themselves too.”
Kevin Crenshaw, floor supervisor, said, “You hear these parents that say that doctors have told their child that they will never be able to learn how to ride. We prove them wrong in the span of five days. It’s awesome.”
Crenshaw is the floor supervisor for the program. He’s one of many who keep the kids safe throughout the five days. He says the special bikes work with the kids. It helps them adjust to the instability. But that isn’t all they learn from the bike rides. Crenshaw says the whole process teaches them skills they can use in other aspects of their lives.
Crenshaw said, “They gain that self esteem where it used to be, ‘I can’t, I’ll never be able to learn how to ride a bike.’ Within five days, they develop that skill. Where it used to be an I can’t, is now an I can. And you’ll see they’ll try to see what else they can do. It’s not just this.”
The UNYFEAT organization has been teaching kids with autism to ride bikes for the last five years. So far, more than 200 children in our area have learned to ride on their own. Organizers say the kids must be at least eight years old to participate. For more information, go to www.unyfeat.org
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