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Bicycle camp helps people with disabilities pedal toward dreams

August 11, 2010

From press release

Lose The Training Wheels, Inc., a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization, brings its innovative style of teaching people with disabilities how to ride a  bicycle to Rockford. Lose The Training Wheels’ five-day camp will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Friday, Aug. 13, at Rockford Park District’s Indoor Sports Center, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park.

The purpose of the program is to help people with disabilities ages 8-adult who once thought their dream of learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels would never come true. People with mental and physical disabilities typically have a more difficult time learning to ride a bike compared to their peers. Each camper will be provided with approximately one hour of instruction each day using a series of adapted bikes and techniques. The camp helps increase self-confidence, improve quality of life through physical activity, inclusion with able-bodied peers, and the ability to participate in a fun family activity. At the end of the camp, more than 80 percent of campers can successfully ride a conventional bike.

Participants who have benefitted most from this program are those who are able to walk without assistive devices, are able to sidestep quickly, can function in a social setting, and are able and willing to wear a bike helmet. Most of all, participants should have the desire to “lose the training wheels.”

The Rockford Park District, whose mission is to help people enjoy life, has partnered with Lose The Training Wheels, Inc., to help teach more than 30 local people ages 8 and older with disabilities how to ride a conventional bike. This is the second consecutive year the Park District has brought the Lose The Training Wheels camp to Rockford. To date, the camp has helped more than 5,000 people in North America learn to ride bicycles without the aid of training wheels.

Lose The Training Wheels provides the equipment necessary to conduct the camp, along with professional expertise for technical support, training of staff and local volunteers, and knowledge of how to run a camp and facilitate the participants’ progress.

As the host organization, Rockford Park District provides the administration, fund-raising, recruitment of children and volunteers, and other camp necessities and sponsors provide for the camp’s monetary needs. The presenting sponsor for the Rockford camp is the CWB Foundation, established by the late Cedric W. Blazer, a successful local businessman, to provide philanthropic support predominantly for the benefit of people with disabilities living in north central Illinois.

For more information about Lose The Training Wheels, Inc., visit losethetrainingwheels.org.

For information about the variety of adapted sports, equipment and therapeutic recreation programs offered by the Rockford Park District, visit rockfordparkdistrict.org/tr or call (815) 987-8800.

From the Aug. 11-17, 2010 issue

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