Bellingham SEPAC Hosts iCan Shine Bike Camp
Jul 30, 2018 01:00PM
● By Amy Bartelloni
Bellingham volunteers teach Connor how to ride a bike.
written by AMY BARTELLONI, Contributing Writer
The week of June 25-29 was exciting for the Bellingham Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC).
In coordination with the Friends of Hopedale SEPAC and iCan Shine, the group was thrilled to host their first bicycle camp for individuals with disabilities. Registration was full at thirty-four children and young adults participating, and over forty-five volunteers.
Established in 2007, iCan Shine is a non-profit organization that teaches individuals with disabilities to ride a conventional two-wheel bicycle during the weeklong camp experience.
Five sessions of seventy-five minutes were held every day. Using custom-designed bike equipment, trained professionals, and volunteers, the program generally results in eighty percent of riders learning to ride a bike independently by the end of camp, and SEPAC President Tina Marie D’Asti said the Bellingham camp met or exceeded those numbers, in her opinion.
“I first heard of the program at a SEPAC regional conference,” Tina said, “and in speaking to Hopedale SEPAC, I expressed a desire to bring the program to Bellingham.”
The towns ended up partnering, but the event wasn’t planned overnight. The process took over a year and a half, partly because of their desire to hold the camp at the Bellingham High School gym. They were willing to wait to book the location, which was perfect for their purposes.
“Everyone was great to work with,” Tina added. “They couldn’t have been more positive and accommodating as far as securing the facility.”
Every participant and volunteer got something out of the program, Tina noted. Program volunteer Ashleigh Hughes, age 15, echoed that sentiment.
“It felt amazing knowing that I was helping someone complete an important milestone in their life,” she said. “I really hope to be a part of it again in the future.”
Though the event is a big time commitment, the effort paid off for the many involved. iCan Shine also offers an iCan Swim program, and it’s something Tina and SEPAC are looking into for the future.
For more information on the Bellingham SEPAC, visit their Facebook page.