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A small effort can mean lives are changed. That is rarely more apparent than the results seen from iCan Bike, a program offered each summer through the YMCA of Greenville’s Eastside Family YMCA.

The weeklong event has been offered each summer – except for last year when it was halted by the pandemic – for a “very, very long time,” according to Rebecca Barnes, Operations Director at the Eastside Family YMCA. 

“We work with iCan Shine, a nonprofit organization that comes in and actually runs the program,” she said. “It teaches kids with diverse abilities how to gradually work on riding a standard two-wheeled bike. They use adaptive bike equipment.”

A cylinder in the back of the bike is made smaller throughout the week as riders work on balance and gain confidence. The method is effective, with 80 percent of the participants ending their week knowing how to ride on their own. The other 20 percent are usually close, and often return the following summer to polish their skills.

“Training wheels are hard because there is not that gradual progression,” Barnes said. 

In iCan Bike, riders also have one-on-one instruction. 

“We try to keep the same volunteers with the kids throughout the week,” Barnes said. 

Riders must be at least 8 years old. Though there is no upper age limit, they must weigh less than 220 pounds. 

The efforts by volunteers and staff are well worth it, Barnes said. She noted the change for one participant who was mostly nonverbal and whose parents were not sure would ever be able to ride a bike on his own. Now, he can and he rides with his parents on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

“Now they can go out and do a family activity that before, they were not able to do,” Barnes said.

iCan Bike will be hosted by the Eastside Family YMCA July 26 – 30 at Taylors First Baptist Church. Registration closes July 11. The cost for riders is $100 each, but financial assistance is available. Volunteers ages 16 and older are needed. Community members are also invited to sponsor a child by making a financial donation. For details about registration, volunteering or sponsorship, email Rebecca Barnes at rbarnes@ymcagreenville.org.

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