Katy event provides children with disabilities opportunity to learn how to ride bikes
KATY, Texas – With the help of volunteers and some specialized equipment, about 30 kids are learning to do something they otherwise may not have been able to: ride a bike.
It's 8-year-old Gabriel Marquez's first time successfully riding a bicycle. It's a big deal for his mom, Talina, given his autism.
“It's kind of hard for him to socialize with other kids because the other kids want to do the things that they are able to do while they're playing and it's hard for him to keep up,” Talina said.
It's something she's been concerned about, especially as he's gotten older. In fact, this isn't the first time he's tried to balance a bike.
“Couple of years ago and he didn't handle the steering and the peddling and the seat at the same time,” Talina said.
“It's about independence and building that confidence that 'hey I've learned to ride a bike, what's the next thing I can do,'” says Jennifer Wrzyszczynski, co-host of the iCan Bike: Katy event.
Jennifer is not only one of the women we can credit with bringing the program to the Houston area, she's also the parent of an iCan Bike graduate.
“We had tried for several years and we decided this was going to be the last effort to get him to ride,” Wrzyszczynski said.
After the course -- 75 minutes per day for five days -- her son was off and riding.
“Sometimes as parents with a child with a disability, we're always involved with whatever they do. And if we back up and let someone else take over and give our children direction, it helps so much more,” Wrzyszczynski said.
“It was so hard and I don't, but it was great. Wa-hoo!” Gabriel said.
Of course, learning to ride involves more than just controlling the bike. Gabriel, give the folks some safety tips.
“Beware of oil and stay alert, that's the sign to the left, that's the sign to the right, this one is how you stop. Stay alert. If you don't, you will hurt yourself,” Gabriel said.
The success rate for iCan Bike is 80 percent, which means by Friday most of these kids will be living the two-wheeled life. Though this is the only week of the program and it's at capacity, Jennifer plans on bringing it back for a fourth year next summer. She actually hopes its popularity will grow so much other groups will host iCan Bike programs around the Houston area.
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