Bike camp in Ames teaches special needs how to ride a bike


Brian Mozey/Iowa State Daily

iCan Bike is a camp that helps those with special needs learn how to ride a bike.

Claire Norton

Learning how to ride a bike may not be a simple task for everyone and for those with special needs, riding a bike takes time and encouragement.

A particular program that offers a week-long camp for those with special needs to be able to learn how to ride a bike has found its way to Ames.

The camp, iCan Bike, is offered across the country. It is run by the parent organization, iCan Shine, and is partnering with the special needs non-profit organization, Arc of Story County, as well as All Iowa Attack, a travel basketball organization. This program travels all year to wherever they are needed for those with special needs.

The camp runs June 1 through June 5 at the All Iowa Attack West Towne Courts on Dickinson Avenue in Ames.

Katie Cook, senior in kinesiology and iCan Bike camp director, saw the need for one in Ames and founded Iowa’s first iCan Bike camp two years ago.

Cook said riding a bike provides benefits for adults with special needs because they are able to ride to work or to the store without relying on anyone else.

“It allows our campers to learn how to ride a bike—learn a skill in a time period that is, generally, a little bit quicker,” Cook said.

This camp provides extensive learning for adults and children alike, an opportunity to grow and allows each camper to be independent.

For those volunteering, this program also offers an experience in bonding with these individuals. Volunteers are able to have fun with the campers, while teaching them life skills and how to ride a bike.

Two employees from the iCan Shine organization will provide a trailer full of specialized bikes for gaining balance, to oversee the camp and adhere to any bike difficulties.

Cook works with three other ISU students studying kinesiology to make the annual camp a success.

Jenna Ham, senior in kinesiology and the group’s assistant director, said she is most excited about the program to give back to the community.

“I know when I was younger, and to this day, I loved riding my bike,” Ham said. “[I’m excited] to give people that opportunity to have that same joy and independence that I was able to have.”

This year, the volunteers and campers will work with one another for an hour or so each of the five days to advance the campers’ biking skills.

Cook encourages anyone interested to become part of this event to reach a goal of 35 campers and 85 to 90 volunteers for this year’s iCan Bike.

Cook also said she hopes to have each camper’s fee under $100 after grants and other fundings are set.