Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 3, 2011


Host: Ted Simons

Lose the Training Wheels


  • Lose the Training Wheels is a non-profit organization that teaches kids with disabilities how to ride a bike.
Category: Culture   |   Keywords: children,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: For a handful of Arizona kids the New Year brings new possibilities. These kids can now ride a bike. David Majure reports.

Instructor: Pedal, pedal, I got you, pedal.

Kym McMullin: Go on, you can do it.
David Majure: It's the day before Christmas and Kim McMullen already has the greatest gift.
Kym McMullin: This has been really exciting. He's riding a -- he's riding a bike without training wheels and it's the neatest thing ever.
Jeremy: I did it
David Majure: Her son Jeremy just learned to ride a two-wheel bike.

Instructor: Oh, my gosh. You keep telling me thank you and I want to tell you thank you because your brought your kid here, and I get to get the good.

Kym McMullin: You did it Yay!
David Majure: Jeremy has Down syndrome, one of about 30 kids who recently completed a five-day camp conducted by Lose the Training Wheels, a nonprofit organization that teaches kids with disabilities to ride a bike. Matt Hampton is the group's executive director.
Matt Hampton: It's very simple, we do one thing and do it well.

David Majure: He works at camps around the country where he's constantly amazed by what he sees.

Matt Hampton: To me it's like watching magic unfold throughout the week. Some kid are scared of being on a bike, they don't like having a helmet on their head. Little by little you see the lights start to turn on. Some parents will come and say, we worked for seven years and we've had therapists and done all these things. You see the progress every day, and all of a sudden the light turns on and they are ready to go, it's exciting.

David Majure: The program uses specialized equipment to take the kids where training wheels simply can't.

Matt Hampton They make a bike rigid. They turn a bike into a wobbly 15 tricycle. They have developed bad habits that don't translate to riding a two-wheel bike. If their mental process or motor control is delayed, they did not go from that to a two-wheel bike, it's going to fall very quickly. Our process is to take them gradually from a bike that's rely till stable but still wobbles, very gradually to a bike that's unstable.

Volunteer: No, no, no, you got it. Pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal!

Matt Hampton: They will ride a bike with a roll or a wheel on the back. It has a little bit of a contour. We watch to see when they begin to see some comfort or confidence. Then we change to a different roller that allows the bike to rock and weave a little bit more. They make adjustments and handle that. From roller to roller, it becomes more and more con toured to create an unstable bicycle. They are discovering, what I do when this tips. We're watching for that aha moment. When we see they are responding correctly when the bike tips, we put them on a two-wheel bike and let them go. In most cases they are ready to ride a bike.
David Majure: These camps work with volunteers who work with the same child all week long.
David Majure: They act as fathers, coaches and cheerleaders.
Volunteer: Yes, good job! Good job, buddy. [Applause]
David Majure: Their reward is watching the children succeed.
Volunteer: He's done a great job, great job. It's so neat to see them get on the two-wheeler. It's so cool. [Applause]
David Majure Not every kid will leave the camp riding a two-wheel bike.
Matt Hampton: Not always. Our success rate is about 80%.
David Majure: But even the smallest victories can lead to bigger and better things.

Matt Hampton: We almost believe we're a bit of a gateway from an "I can't" world to an "I can" world. We hear a lot of stories like, My child learned to play guitar. My child's grades went up, my child became more social.

Kym McMullin: This is really special because we were told when we adopted Jeremy that he might not ever walk. This is opening a social door for him, to ride with kids in the neighborhood. It's really, really, really neat. It's really special.

Ted Simons: And that is it for now.

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