For Colorado kids, riding a bike seems second nature, and with the area’s mild (yet sometimes unpredictable) weather, kids can take to the streets on just about any given day. But the joy of riding a bike doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and some kids often miss out on this treasured pastime. Riding a bike can be challenging for some children, especially those with special needs who may struggle with the balance and coordination needed to ride a pedal bike.
That’s exactly why Boulder Parks & Recreation has teamed up with Strider Bikes to bring an exciting new bike-riding program to children with special needs. Through the city’s EXPAND Program for people with disabilities, Strider Camps offer children a chance to learn the skills needed to become bike-riding enthusiasts.
The Strider Camp program uses Strider no-pedal balance bikes to teach balance and riding skills to small groups of kids. Due to the simplicity of the bikes, Strider bikes are great for kids with special needs because they allow children to concentrate on the fundamental skills of balancing, leaning and steering while propelling the bike in a natural way—it’s as easy as walking. With feet safely on the ground, a rider is able to maneuver and ride a Strider bike with ease.
The camp sessions feature a progression of steps from walking the bike, to striding and going over obstacles and turning, which help increase core strength, balance and coordination. “We want to give (kids) the opportunity to experience the fun of riding a bike and improve motor and balance skills,” says Sherri Brown, therapeutic recreation coordinator for Boulder Parks & Recreation. “The Strider bikes” design is a good way to achieve these experiences in a safe and healthy environment.”
EXPAND is currently offering two Strider Camp programs, one for ages 8 to 16 and another for ages 16 and up. The classes use Strider 16 and Strider 20 bikes to address the skills and abilities of each age level and successfully engage kids in riding bikes with peers of the same age. During the class, participants increase balance, coordination and gross motor skills, as well as gain confidence. “After just two classes, I”ve seen an increase in confidence in their ability to balance the bike successfully,” says Brown. Kids leave with a better understanding of the parts of a bike and the skills necessary to balance and ride on two wheels.
EXPAND’s Strider Camp six-week program will continue throughout the year at the East Boulder Community Center. The cost is between $15 and $30 depending on the program. For more information or to sign up for an upcoming Strider Camp call 303-441-4933 or visit bouldercolorado.gov.