Biking is both exercise and transportation; it’s a social activity of connection, a childhood rite of passage and a first taste of independence.
But for some people with a physical impairment, biking can be a life-changing accomplishment. On July 12, Medford Children’s Therapy is bringing Bike Now! to Jackson County, thanks to support from Jackson Care Connect. The initial orientation and six-day bike camp, held at Phoenix High School gym and outdoor track, teaches kids and adults how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle.
The program is for those eight and older who have had difficulty or an inability to learn through traditional methods. The camp is perfect for individuals with conditions such as Down syndrome, mild to moderate autism, mild cerebral palsy, vision or fine motor nerve impairment, or developmental delay.
Medford Children’s Therapy Clinic staff members Deirdre Nixon, a physical therapist, and Rebeccah Beiri, an occupational therapist, were inspired by the Bike First! event in Portland. They’re now organizing this event for the first time in the Rogue Valley.
The camp’s curriculum and specialty adaptive equipment is directly modeled after Bike First. “We saw an astonishing rate of success in the Portland program, with 98 percent of kids able to ride a two-wheel bike by the end of the week,” Nixon says. Parents can find out how to register their children by visiting www.mct4kids.org
The fee of $250 per child covers room and board for Bike Now! staff, T-shirts for all and lunch for volunteers and staff. Financial assistance is available. In addition to its sponsorship, Jackson Care Connect is providing bike helmets for all riders and a $100 scholarship for JCC members.
Bike First! What it is:
Bike First! hosts weeklong camps that help children and adults with disabilities take a solo bicycle ride by bicycle. It uses a unique type of adapted bike.
Why it works
The adapted bicycles use a wide “roller” with tapered ends instead of a rear wheel. Starter rollers have a wide middle surface area to balance on, but the tapered edges let children learn how to lean (as opposed to training wheels, which don’t teach principles of balance).
To watch a heartwarming video of the adapted bikes in action, visit and scroll down on the page: http://www.bikefirstlttw.com