Program makes riding a bike possible for children with autism

A national organization is making a stop in Oklahoma City for the first time. It's called "iCan Bike" and it helps children with disabilities learn how to ride a bike.

FOX25's Christine VanTimmeren talked with a local organizer about how this program will impact families in our area.

As a kid, there's nothing better than the day you learn to ride a bike. It's the thrill of speed and the satisfaction of knowing you have freedom.

"He feels so important and so independent," said mom Jennifer Morris. "He can now go up and down the street like all the other kids."

But for children with disorders like autism or down syndrome, that skill doesn't come easy.

"It was just frustrating for him and for us," said Morris. Morris' son Josh has autism. Learning to ride a bike was very difficult for him, but after he did, it opened up a whole new world and a whole new set of life skills.

"They're gaining strength. They're gaining endurance, which can be applied across everything they're doing," said Morris.

It's a skill many parents wish their child could learn, and thanks to "iCan Bike" they don't have
to do it alone.

"The three main disabilities that we see come into the program are the autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome, and cerebral palsy," said "iCan Bike" director Nikki Williams.

Williams is a local director for "iCan Bike" and an occupational therapist at Total Poss-abilities in
. She has been a director for "iCan Bike" for a number of years and knows how valuable this program is. Using specially equipped bikes and volunteers, children can learn how to ride a bike in five days in a safe environment.

"We have to modify the equipment and build that confidence every step of the way," said Williams.

"It's going to be beneficial to so many families and I wish that we would have had that support when my husband and I were running behind him," said Morris.

This year's program is already full of students, but Williams says she needs volunteers. People to stand by the children as they ride into a new chapter of their lives.

Volunteers need to be at least 16 years old and must be available Monday-Friday the week of August 5-9. Each daily session is 75 minutes and requires a lot of running or jogging next to participants. Williams says it's a lot of work, but extremely rewarding for those who volunteer.

If you would like to volunteer click here.

"I think it'll be an achievement that the families can be a part of and be really proud of," said Morris.

Williams says she wishes more students could get involved this year, but she does plan to bring the program back next year.