iCanBike comes to Tucson to teach special needs individuals how to ride a bike

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A program teaching special needs individuals how to ride a two-wheel bike is in Tucson this week.

Research shows that over 80% of people with autism and 90% of people with down syndrome never learn to ride a two-wheel bike. The camp iCanBike aims to defy those odds.

The iCanBike camp consists of 75-minute long sessions once a day for five days. They use roller bikes that have a roller instead of a regular wheel.

Kaitlyn Shmidt is the Floor Supervisor for iCanBike. “Monday they start with a roller that looks like a rolling pin, equal circumference all the way around. And as the week goes on, they go through a series of rollers that taper, creating that imbalance and instability, giving them that feedback of what it would be like on a two-wheel bike,” she said.

She said the beauty in her method is the riders don’t know the pin sizes are changing. “Once we get them on two wheels starting Wednesday, they already kind of have a feel of what it’s like to be on a two-wheel bike.”

Shmidt said she loves watching them build confidence as they learn to ride.

Host and parent Christine Desilva brought the program here to Tucson. She and her husband worked for six months to get everything organized.

“He was kind of like my cheerleader in the background,” said DeSilva.

She found sponsors, recruited volunteers, and gathered families across Arizona willing to participate in the program.

She made it her mission to give her son the chance to learn to ride a bike. She said it’s so rewarding to see the progress he and the other riders are making.

“It’s amazing. They’re just smiling from ear to ear, happy, and I’m really excited for them,” said DeSilva.

Shmidt says the iCanBike camp has an 80% success rate overall. To find out more about the camp, where to find one, or how to host one, you can turn to their website, icanshine.org.

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Reyna Preciado is a reporter for KGUN 9, she joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after graduating Arizona State University. Share your story ideas with Reyna by emailing [email protected] or by connecting on Instagram, or Twitter.

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