For our 6 month internship, we have additional requirements to fulfill. One of them is regarding “consultation” – meaning that we are to use our PT background and knowledge to serve and teach an un/underinsured or otherwise disadvantaged population. I had the extreme privilege of volunteering at a camp through the iCan Shine program. There was a local iCan Bike camp in my area this past week where I was able to serve and learn at the same time.
The program has five, 75 minute sessions during which children with special needs learn how to ride a bike. Each camper has 1-3 volunteer spotters to direct, refocus, and encourage them. I had the opportunity to integrate ergonomics, posture, and motor planning from a PT perspective.
The camp is incredible. The directors, volunteers and campers all put in so much hard work, which definitely paid off. For the first two days, children had difficulty getting onto their bikes without assistance and had a hard time balancing on their specialized safety bikes. Many parents were skeptical their children would make it onto a 2-wheeled bike by the end of the week.
Then, on the final days, I watched kids walk their own personal bike to the start line, kick their kickstand up without help, and ride independently for an hour or more. A parent told me (with tears in her eyes), “I can’t believe she’s riding alone! We’ve been trying to teach her for 3 years and have had no success!”
The kids said everything from, “I’m doing it!”, “I’m a speed racer!”, and “Just call me bike rider!” While it may have fulfilled a school requirement, it fulfilled so much more – I had the chance to meet some incredible kids and their families, as well volunteers who consistently give so much effort and time into a program they believe in. I learned many new techniques on motivation and teaching, and I practiced PT in a setting that was filled with joy and excitement. I got to enable kids with a means of exercise, fun, and transportation, while running myself ragged trying to keep up with them. It was a perfect week. Next week I will return to my clinical with a refreshed perspective to teach and learn.