YARMOUTH, Maine — A new camp coming to Maine this summer plans to get special needs kids and adults rolling.
The iCan Bike Portland Maine camp will take place at Casco Bay Arena in Falmouth from June 28-July 2.
The week-long camp costs $250 per rider and is open to people 8 and older with special needs. Trained staff and volunteers will use specialized equipment to support participants as they learn to ride.
Developed by the non-profit organization iCan Shine 14 years ago, the camp has helped more than 20,000 individuals with disabilities worldwide have learned to ride independently.
Ally and Casey Ford are teaching their son Grady how to ride a bike, but it can be challenging. The 8-year old has Down Syndrome and low muscle tone. He will take part in the ICan Bike Camp next month.
Betsy Cyr, a pediatric physical therapist, volunteered at an ICan Bike camp in Massachusetts. She is helping to bring the camp to Maine.
"It promotes social inclusion," Cyr said. "How many kids do we know who are typically developing that get to ride bikes with your family and friends?"
iCan Bike says an average of 80 percent of participants learn how ride independently, plus other skills such as learning to stop and start a bike.
"They are also taught self-confidence, which can be empowering to them," Cyr added.
Campers attend 75-minute sessions each day for five days, supported by the same two volunteers through the course of the camp. About 60 volunteers are needed to support all of the participants.
Grady's dad, Casey Ford, is providing free tune-ups and adjustments for riders at his bike repair shop, KB Wheels in Yarmouth. Grady's parents, who volunteered for the iCan Bike camp in California, plan to volunteer for the Maine camp as well.
Donated bikes are available for families to use.
Grady's parents believe learning to ride on his own will be life-changing for him.
"We would like to have him included when we go out and ride," Casey Ford said.
For information, go to iCan Bike Portland Maine on Facebook. Betsy Cyr can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 617-869-1179.
To register for the iCan Bike Portland Maine, click here
To sign up as a volunteer, click here