PORTER TOWNSHIP | Elaine Reeves Haywood came from Chicago to Boone Grove High School with one goal in mind: to teach her son, Malcolm, to ride a bike.
Malcolm, 20, was one of about 30 camp participants at the iCan Bike camp, which aims to teach those with special needs to ride bikes with two wheels. The week-long camp, which primarily focuses on children, was organized by the iCan Shine organization. Chasing Dreams, of Valparaiso, hosted the third annual camp at Boone Grove High School.
During the beginning of the camp, riders begin using bikes with rollers on the back, said Donovan Bryan, an iCan Bike staff member from Zionsville. Once riders are able to use the bikes with rollers, then they move to bikes without rollers. During the five day camp, riders attend one 75 minute session each day.
Bryan said at the end of camps, about 80 percent of the participants are able to successfully ride bikes. However, he said each participant makes their own progress. For instance, he said at the beginning of the camp, a child might be terrified of bikes, and by the end, they might be comfortable with bikes.
Multiple iCan Bike camps are organized throughout the country, according to Bryan.
The camp transforms a child’s life in one week, he said.
“It’s the most rewarding thing I can ever imagine doing,” Bryan said.
Reeves Haywood said it is important that Malcolm learned how to ride a bike, because her whole family likes to ride bikes together. At first, Reeves Haywood said she was nervous, because she didn’t think Malcolm would wear a helmet.
“He has been consistent with keeping the helmet on, because he knows that in order to ride, he has to wear the helmet,” she said.
Before the camp, Malcolm couldn’t ride a bike, but now he can.
“In four days, I am just in awe of the progress he has made here,” she said.
Lisa Jegen, of Chesterton, brought her son, Richard, 9, to the iCan Bike camp for his second year. Richard wasn’t able to stop on his own or make turns last year, but that has changed this year, she said.
Jegen said riding bikes allows children to have freedom, and it is also an activity that families can do together.
“We thought it would be a really nice thing where our whole family could ride our bikes together,” she said.
Deanna Proimos, a Chasing Dreams board member, said the week of the iCan Bike camp is her favorite week of the year.
It’s awesome to see the kids riding the bikes and experiencing the feeling of wind in their hair, she said.
“I have fallen in love with these kids,” she said.