Dont let go, Dad! Dont let go!
By JERRY LaMARTINA
Special to The Star
Remember the thrill and terror of your first solo bike ride? Well, a program is helping children with learning disabilities experience that thrill, too.
Kit Bardwell, arts and extracurricular coordinator for Horizon Academy in Mission, started the program about two weeks ago with help from Family Bicycles in Waldo and RevolveKC, a Kansas City cycling-enthusiast group. RevolveKC donates bikes through Family Bicycles to the program.
Im a very enthusiastic cyclist, Bardwell said. Its freedom and transportation.
The programs nine kids ride at Horizon Academy once a week.
Sixth-grader Ian Nitschke said he likes riding but its not as easy as he wouldve thought.
Its OK, he said. So-so. Its hard on this thing.
Kansas City has shown generosity by passing on the bikes to RevolveKC, said Theresa Van Ackeren, owner of Family Bicycles.
We use all our resources to get them to the people who want them, she said.
Conviction prompts her to crusade for bikes.
I believe that everybody should learn to ride a bike, she said. A bike to kids means freedom. It lets you expand your horizons. Its an exhilarating experience. Way too many kids in todays world have no idea how to ride a bike.
Enjoy the freedom of going out and riding a bike to the 7-Eleven to get a Slurpee, which is what I used to do.
Fourth-grader Griffin Prior hopes for a Slurpee bike ride, but she said shes still learning the cycling ropes.
I dont know it all, she said. She scrapes her knees sometimes, especially when Im walking my dog.
Eighth-grader Jon Jackson said he doesnt usually use training wheels, so hes getting the hang of cycling.
Van Ackeren said she got hooked on seeing the expressions on kids faces when they finally get it.
Its a sense of accomplishment and adventure, she said. I remember what that was like when I was a kid. It really is more about doing it for the pleasure of doing it.
Physical activity helps calm down kids for other things, Van Ackeren said.
A sense of accomplishment in one area, especially athletics, leads to better grades, she said.
That proficiency probably helps students with their studies, too, Bardwell said.
I would think any kind of gross-motor development would help all their learning.