For the second year, special needs children from across Massachusetts gathered in Groton to get help learning how to ride a bike, including one special boy from Westford.
Michael Papapanayiotou has long wanted to ride a bicycle, and he finally got the chance during April Vacation thanks to Emerson Hospital’s iCan Shine Bike Camp.
Michael’s mother Stacy Limperis had heard about the camp through a physical therapist at Emerson and figured it was the best route for Michael to achieve his dream of learning how to ride a bike.
There, expert volunteers helped Michael overcome various medical conditions that had prevented bicycle mastery to this point.
“We’ve been trying to get him to learn how to ride a bike for years now and it was very difficult for him,” said Limperis. “(Here) he looked like he was flying. He was just thrilled, he loves this.”
Michael was just one of 36 special needs children learning how to ride a bike, thanks to a program designed by the iCanShine organization’s iCanBike initiative, which has helped disabled children in 32 states learn how to ride bicycles for three decades.
“There are a lot of children with special needs be it Down Syndrome or Autism or Developmental Coordination Disorder or attentional issues who cannot learn how to ride a bike and bike riding is very important,” said Mary Evans, camp director and physical therapist at Emerson’s Center for Sports Rehabilitation and Sports Therapies in Westford. “Emerson Hospital is very committed proactively to healthy living, so we’ve really taken it on that we want to help people learn to do activities such as bike riding to keep themselves healthy.”
The camp is one of three iCanBike camps being held in Massachusetts this year, the next camp is scheduled at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge from August 15 to 19.