For so many, learning to ride a bicycle is a natural achievement and rite of passage in childhood.
For so many with disabilities, however, learning to ride a bicycle never happens. Because of balance challenges, anxiety, low muscle tone, and other physical and cognitive delays, the milestone that is a gateway to independence goes unachieved.
But a few weeks ago, the Hoboken Family Alliance, the city’s recreation department, more than 50 volunteers, two workers from a national not-for-profit group, iCanBike, and staffers and faculty throughout Hoboken High School, helped 17 individuals with disabilities and their families achieve a dream: riding a two-wheel bicycle independently.
The one-week program runs five sessions a day. In each session the riders and their volunteers, circle around the gym on bikes adapted with special wheels to promote balance and confidence. Every minute counts as they advance through different levels of equipment. Thanks to the know-how of the two pros from iCanBike, the riders get on two-wheels with some assistance. By Friday, 17 out of the 24 riders were riding completely independent!
This is the third year that the Hoboken Family Alliance hosted the camp. The camp is no small task but has big rewards. The riders glow with success, triumph over what may have looked like an insurmountable challenge and make great strides socially. Volunteers who have never worked with an individual with disabilities, grow emotionally and civically. Parents cry with joy over their child's achievement.
We’d like to thank each and every volunteer who committed their time throughout the week, especially Selen Berberoglu, Andrea Erichsen, Michael Faucher, Frances Maldonado, Denine Young, and Jenny and JP Quisp, who dedicated more than 40 hours of their summer to others!
We’d also thank Mayor Zimmer and the City of Hoboken and the Recreation Department for its support and Ed Miller, Assistant Superintendent of Recreation, who was the camp director for the week. Thanks to Ben & Jerry’s, HMag, the Hoboken Harriers, Litzky PR, Macy’s and the participants of Mutzfest – Biancamano’s, Fran’s Deli, Lisa’s Deli, Losurdo Bros. Deli and Vito’s Italian Deli – all of whom sponsored the event. And last but not least thank you to the team at Hoboken High School: Principal Piccapietra, Derek England, Tim Calligy, Vinnie Johnson, and security guards Marteen Peralta and Denise Scott, who greeted everyone from the camp each day with a smile; and Ramon Estrella, Manuel Dominguez, Joe Lucignano, David Seagara, Joe Vitale, Patrick Vescusco, David Roof and Danny Arocho, who made sure the gym and track were open and ready for our riders every day.
The camp will be back next July. Join us with your special needs child as participant. Or, you can volunteer or be a sponsor. Contact Theresa Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see pictures go to Hoboken Family Alliance on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HobokenFamily. As a community organization we’re proud to be part of this great city to help all families.
Director, Children with Special Needs
Hoboken Family Alliance