NSights Blog

Eighth annual iCan Bike Camp starts June 14th

The Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities program aims to teach individuals with a disability to ride a bike

Kids and adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities are invited to learn to ride a two-wheeler at the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities (NCED) eighth annual iCan Bike Camp June 14th through 18th in Reno. The NCED partners every year with iCan Shine, a non-profit organization that teaches individuals with disabilities to ride a conventional two-wheel bicycle through its iCan Bike program.  With 75 minutes of instruction each day for five days, over 80 percent of riders learn to ride a conventional bicycle independently by the fifth day of camp. In the past, over 80 percent of people with Autism and 90 percent of people with Down syndrome never learned to ride a two-wheel bicycle. Defying these odds is a key element of iCan Shine’s mission.

For host and organizer Diana Rovetti, the event holds a personal significance. Teaching her son Jack, who has Down syndrome, to ride a bike proved to be a challenge for their active family. However, the Rovettis love the outdoors, so Diana continued to search for options. While attending a conference in Texas, Diana learned about an organization called iCan Shine. Finding an absence of something similar in Nevada, she set out to bring iCan Bike to Reno in 2013. 

“Holding the camp in Reno has paid off not only for Jack, but for many other individuals who have learned to ride a bike at one of our camps.” Rovetti said. “Shortly after our first bike camp, our family went on a cruise and we were able to go on a family bike ride exploring the port. I thought that would never happen for our family. We have enjoyed many family bike rides since and riding bikes keeps our family active and having fun.”

Riding a bike provides the benefit of developing strength, balance, burning up calories and strengthening the heart, lungs and lower-body muscles and bones. It provides further benefits in improving mental health and learning. Choosing to ride a bike is good for the environment and acts as an effective form of transportation for work, school and more. Going on a ride is a fun, healthy activity the whole family can enjoy together.

For individuals living with a disability, learning to ride a bike can provide invaluable independence, transportation and leisure. At the conclusion of one particular camp, one of the participants, a 25-year-old man with Down syndrome, came up to Rovetti and told her how happy it made him to ride a bike and take himself to work without his mother.

The Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities is in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Nevada, Reno. The NCED has many projects focusing on research, best practices, accessibility, information dissemination, inclusion and improving the lives of people with disabilities. 

To be eligible to enroll in this year’s iCan Bike Camp, riders must be at least eight-years-old, have a disability and be able to walk without an assistive device such as a walker or cane. Furthermore, riders must be able to side-step quickly to either side. Riders must have a minimum inseam measurement of 20 inches and weigh no more than 220 pounds. The program is always looking for more participants and volunteers. Register to ride or volunteer online or contact Diana Rovetti at rovetti@unr.edu for more information.

Diana Rovetti
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