Our long-term vision is to expand programs offered to individuals with disabilities from our iCan Bike program to activities such as swimming, dancing, horseback riding and gymnastics. We are currently in the planning stages of our iCan Swim program and hope to begin introducing it in 2015.
iCan Bike programs are for people with disabilities ages eight to eighty eight! We understand that the vast majority of people with disabilities never experience the thrill of independently riding a two-wheel bicycle during their lifetime. For example, recent research shows that over 80% of people with Autism and 90% of people with Down syndrome never learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle. Defying these odds is why we exist!
Our adapted iCan Bike program resulted from more than twenty years of research by Dr. Richard E. Klein, a mechanical engineering professor, and his students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Klein retired from his academic career at the University of Illinois in 1998 and held the first bike camp in 1999 in La Crosse, WI.
In the ensuing years, Dr. Klein and his wife, Marjorie, invested a significant portion of their lives in growing the bike program to three fleets of bikes and approximately 30 camps in 2006. Today Dr. Klein and Marjorie are principals in Rainbow Trainers, Inc. (www.rainbowtrainers.com) which is the manufacturer of our adapted bicycle equipment.
We offer two types of iCan Bike Programs:
By far, the most popular of our adapted bike programs is our iCan Bike camps which occur predominantly in the summer months but also during week-long school breaks. For our bike camps, we collaborate primarily with local charities, parks and recreation departments, colleges, universities, motivated parents and other individuals we refer to as our camp ‘hosts’ who secure a local facility and recruit riders and volunteer spotters for the 5-day (M – F) camp.
Hosts pay us a fixed fee to conduct these 5-day camps which consist of five 75-minute bike-riding sessions per day with a range of four to eight riders per session. The number of riders per session depends on the square footage of the indoor riding area of the host-provided facility and the host’s recruiting efforts. The fixed fee for our iCan Bike camp remains the same regardless of how many riders the host facility can accommodate (between 20 and 40 riders).
After School Bike Programs (ASP)
During the school year we collaborate with public school districts that choose to host our after-school bike programs. This program differs from our bike camp (mentioned above) in that it: 1) occurs during days that school is in session, but just after school hours; 2) typically involves only one or two 75-minute sessions per day; 3) uses the typically-developing peer students of the program participants as the volunteer spotters; and 4) involves the spotters attending a one-hour group diversity training session each day before the program starts focused on learning about different disabilities and the accompanying educational and social challenges their peer students with special needs face.
Our use of the typically-developing peer students as spotters provides a great group setting for the spotters to ask questions and openly discuss with their fellow typically developing students important related topics. This better prepares them for interacting with their peers with disabilities as they physically and emotionally support their efforts to learn to independently ride a bicycle during the week-long program. The impact on the spotters is often as profound as the impact on the riders. Including the bike program as part of after-school programming raises awareness and promotes inclusion within the school district.
We expect that our adapted swim program for individuals with disabilities will be the first of our new program offerings. We are currently in the planning stages of our pilot iCan Swim program which we expect to introduce on a broader scale beginning in 2014.