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Notre Dame College Helps Special Needs Youth Learn to Ride Bikes in One-of-a-kind Camp in Cleveland Area

Children with special needs will learn to ride conventional bicycles during the fourth annual Notre Dame College iCan Bike summer camp June 23-27.

This year youth who range in age from 8 to 19─and whose disabilities include cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism and a prosthetic leg, among others─will become self-sufficient on two-wheelers within one week during the program at the College.

Notre Dame not only hosts and sponsors this only camp of its kind in the Cleveland area but also is one of the most successful of programs like it in the country. While nationally, about 80 percent of campers successfully can ride conventional bicycles at the end of the program, nearly 90 percent successfully complete the Notre Dame program.

“We attribute the higher-than-average success rate for our camp to the dedicated group of volunteers who help out year after year. They are passionate people who come in with a positive attitude, ready and willing to help the participants in any way they can,” said Jason Baxter, volunteer and Note Dame’s manager of athletic department operations.

The College provides many of the more than 50 volunteers who teach the youth with special needs the "lose the training wheels" techniques. A large number of those serving are student-athletes and coaches. 

“Notre Dame is a community of caring individuals. As an organization, the College promotes community service as well as physical fitness, which are both qualities needed for the volunteers who put on this camp,” said Rob Fellinger, volunteer and camp co-director.

While 25 youth will take part in the program at the College this year, another 20 or more already are on a waiting list for next year. The campers hail from Summit and Lake counties, as well as Cuyahoga.

The iCan Bike, An Achievement Center for Children Camp, program is coordinated by iCan Shine, formerly Lose The Training Wheels. They will provide only two other programs in Northeast Ohio this summer: one in Akron and one in Youngstown.

“Notre Dame is such a good fit for this program. The College is known for connecting community,” said Deena Barrett, volunteer and camp co-director.

Each camper trains for 75-minutes, five days a week─with the same volunteer weeklong. The youth generally begin riding conventional two-wheelers in the third and fourth sessions of the camp.

“The testimonials from families of the campers confirm this program changes these children’s lives. They gain independence and confidence. And this is a group of children who because of their special needs don’t always get that,” Fellinger said.

According to iCan Shine, more than 80 percent of those with Autism and 90 percent with Down syndrome never learn how to ride two-wheelers.

For more information about the Notre Dame camp, contact Baxter at jbaxter@ndc.eduor Fellinger at mailto:icanbike@achievementctrs.org.

 

ABOUT NOTRE DAME COLLEGE

For 91 years, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master’s degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers 22 NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Highlights of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff and small class sizes.