Autism bike camp hits roadblock

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Dozens of Hampton Roads kids with autism and other developmental delays have been given the chance of a lifetime: to learn to ride regular two-wheeled bicycles.There’s only one catch — no one will open their doors to provide a place for them to ride.

Pam Clendenen Executive Director for Families of Autistic Children in Tidewater (F.A.C.T.), contacted 10 On Your Side’s Stephanie Harris after running into several roadblocks: “No one, no one will help, so I became frustrated and I said, ‘who can I call? 10 On Your Side!”

The program called, I Can Shine, is run by a national organization. It sends staff and bicycles around the country teaching kids to ride a bike during a one-week camp. It’s highly acclaimed.

Clendenen can’t say enough about what I Can Shine Bike Camp did for local kids last summer: “I mean, kids who can barely attend were riding! It was amazing, in five days.”

And the “amazing” part isn’t just about mastering the peddling and balancing. The kids gained confidence, and for some, Clendenen said it may be their main mode of transportation down the road.

Clendenen has secured a grant to hold the camp again, but the location they held it last year has since closed. She said she called the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, private schools and churches.

“Churches were like, ‘we don’t want the liability.’ I said, ‘I have a $1 million liability policy.,'” she Clendenen said.

She also has a long list of kids who can’t wait to ride and others who are ready to work as volunteers. All they need is someone with a big space and a big heart to help F.A.C.T. help children with autism realize they can ride and shine.

F.A.C.T. is a not-for-profit organization, but it can pay a reasonable amount to rent a space. They need a location for the camp for one week in the second half of August.

If you think you can help, contact Pam Clendenen via the following:

Phone: 757-422-2040
Fax: 757-306-7055

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