Volunteers needed to help children with autism learn to ride bikes

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The week between Christmas and the New Year can be a lot of sitting and eating. If you’re looking for a way to get up and give back, some special kids could really use your help learning to ride a bike.

They are children with autism, enrolled in a week-long program called ‘I Can Shine,’ sponsored by Families of Autistic Children in Tidewater, or FACT.

“These are children who tried, mostly when they were five or six, when you would normally teach a child to ride a bike, and failed,” said FACT Executive Director Pam Clendenen.

FACT has sponsored several of these events in the past and has another scheduled for next week. There’s just one problem: They need volunteers who can run alongside a rider and catch them if they fall.

It takes a little bit of energy, but organizers say it’s totally worth it when you see the kids smile — and when their parents cry.

“The tears, the tears,” Clendenen said.  “When you have a child with a disability, there’s so many things you think they’ll
never be able to do. They’ll never learn to talk or they’ll never go to college or you know, they’ll never ride a bike.”

And when they do, the kids’ reaction is priceless.

“You can see in their posture and faces, even a nonverbal child is screaming with their smile, ‘I can do it! I can do it!'”

The camp runs Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Saturday, Dec. 31 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at Virginia Wesleyan. Sign up to volunteer here.