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Springfield Hosts Bike Camp to Assist Disabled Children

Taylor Vance

A bike camp stationed in the Ozarks this week has been teaching children with disabilities how to ride. KSMU’s Taylor Vance attended a session and has this report.

During the summer, iCan Shine collaborates with local charities to conduct five-day bike camps across the nation. The nonprofit, which provides learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities, partnered this year with Down Syndrome of the Ozarks.

Mindy Hesterly , bike camp coordinator, got involved with the organization after her son was born with down syndrome in 2006.

“I’ve been wanting to have this here for a long time. My son finally is old enough and big enough to be able to do it and he has been for a couple years. And finally my role with the organization has kind of lessened in the last few months and so I was able to jump in and take on a role of getting it here this year and I’m so glad I did,” said Hesterly.

Volunteers like Melinda Call came out to help and encourage the riders. Call and her daughter had only signed up Monday through Wednesday, but did not want to miss out on the opportunity to watch the participants grow in their riding capabilities. Seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces is Melinda’s favorite part.

“Some of them have never been on a bike before and just seeing their faces light up as they get on a bike and their riding on their own,” said Call.

This was the first time iCan Share conducted a camp in Springfield in eight years, but the group hopes it will be able to return again next year.

“I’ve just seen some kids that just walked in the door so nervous on Monday and they are independently riding a bike today on day four, so that’s pretty exciting,” said Hesterly.

The five-day camp, which ends Friday, consists of five, 75-minute sessions per day with a range of four to eight riders per session.