1st -time bicyclists taking special flight
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Claire Davidson sat confidently on her bike and rode around the Lose the Training Wheels training course at Huntington High School. Before this week, Claire couldn’t ride a bike on her own, but thanks to the support of program volunteers, Claire and the other young people participating in the program have learned how to ride.
“They get to do something they thought they’d never get to do,” said Manda Kriemmer, floor supervisor for the program.
Lose the Training Wheels helps young people with special needs learn to ride bikes. At the beginning of the week, young people start out riding bikes with training wheels and then progress to riding bikes without training wheels at the end of the week.
This year, student volunteers from Marshall University as well as community members volunteered to help with the program. Volunteers worked to insure the safety of the young people and walked alongside the young people as they rode their bikes to insure they wouldn’t fall off.
Leon Hart, a retired teacher who has volunteered with Lose the Training Wheels for three years, sees the program as a way to provide young people with an activity they can do with their families.
“They’re learning a life skill,” said Hart.
“It’s been an incredible experience to work with children with disabilities [and] watch them succeed,” said Savannah Rice, a student volunteer from Marshall.
“It’s awesome,” said Melissa Davidson, Claire’s mother. “This isn’t just about riding a bike.”
Davidson said the program is a way for her daughter to boost her confidence and learn how to do something she’s always wanted to do. Now that Claire can ride a bike, she no longer has to watch young people in her neighborhood ride their bikes without being able to join the, said Davidson.
“This is a way for her to integrate with her peers,” said Davidson. “She’s absolutely about to explode with excitement to ride with the kids in her neighborhood.”
For Jennifer Dunn’s daughter Kailyn, Lose the Training Wheels has been a way to improve her bike riding skills.
“She never had the confidence [before] to get the training wheels off,” said Dunn. “She’s been able to build up her skills.”
Watching her sons Harley and Trey ride their bikes through the course, Amber Curry watched their progress.
“They both wanted to be able to ride a bike by themselves,” said Curry.
For 9-year-old Trey, learning how to ride a bike was something he had to put on hold for a while following his Leukemia diagnosis.
“To see him do something that is remotely childhood-activity-related is just wonderful,” said Curry.
“It’s been amazing. I don’t have the words for it. It makes my heart smile.”