NewsPositively San Diego


Nonprofit helping people with disabilities learn how to ride bikes

Posted at 7:14 PM, May 23, 2024

SCRIPPS RANCH, Calif. (KGTV) — For the past ten years, iCan Bike San Diego has helped hundreds of kids and adults with disabilities learn how to ride a bike.

Learning how to ride a bike is part of the childhood experience. However, for people with disabilities, it can be much more challenging.

"Research shows 80 percent of people with autism on the autism spectrum never learn to ride a two-wheel bike," April Villafaña said.

Villafaña is the Assistant Director of iCan Bike San Diego.

The organization holds a five-day bike camp every year, during which kids and adults learn how to balance on and navigate bikes. The camp can accommodate up to 40 riders.

"I love riding bikes. It's like a part of exercising, you know," said Emma, Villafaña's daughter.

Villafaña's daughters, Emma and Isabella, are participating in the program.

Emma previously required physical therapy to walk and run, and Isabella has Down syndrome. Villafaña said the program has improved her daughters' gross motor skills.

"Balance, coordination. Isabella, with her Down syndrome, low muscle tone, so toning her trunk and her core," she said.

The group partnered with iCan Shine, a national organization specializing in adaptive bikes, to train the kids.

Clayton Whalen, a bike technician, said the back of the bike has roller mechanisms that prevent the kids from falling off as easily.

"So just in riding the bike, they're kind of naturally learning how to balance and how to navigate that wobbliness, and it basically mimics what a two-wheel bicycle feels like," Whalen said.

Besides the physical benefit, Villafaña said the program allows the kids to socialize and learn to do whatever they put their minds to.

The organization is always looking for volunteers to help with the bike camp. For more info, click here.