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Therapists help kids 'lose the training wheels'

August 10, 2009 11:27:15 AM PDT
Do you remember how you felt when you were able to ride your bike independently? For children with disabilities this means a lot more.Two weeks during the summer months, Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley region offer a program called Lose the Training Wheels.

"They have to be able to ride for five days and for an hour and fifteen minutes each day and there's a couple other requirements, like, physically wise they have to take quick steps, be able to follow group rules, have a little bit of safety awareness," said Andrea Granato, occupational therapist for Easter Seals. "We have a lot of kids with cerebral palsy, some children with autism some children with down syndrome and some with just some motor disabilities."

Balancing, steering, and pedaling at the same time are major challenges for these children. They start learning to ride with bicycles that are fitted with special rollers and then gradually progress from a wide balance base to a conventional one without the training wheels.

Jody Prunty never thought her 8-year-old son Billy would be able to ride a two wheeler.

"He has a slight motor planning issue and a little sensory. Very minor but it has impacts a lot of things," said Prunty.

Billy has tried to ride a bike before.

"He tired right and then pretty much refused to get on the bike for two years and we decided to try the program; it was amazing."

"I'm so proud of all these kids. I can't even tell you they all started so tentative in the beginning and now they are just amazingly confident," said Granato.

"I like it, like the best about riding a bike that because it's really fast, it's really fast," said Billy.

The next weeklong session is August 3-7 at Montini High School in Lombard. The program costs $50. Find out about the program by calling (630) 620-4433 or losethetrainingwheels.org and www.eastersealsdfvr.org


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