‘A social inclusive community’: Edmonton cycling group helps kids to just be kids

An Edmonton-based charity is helping keep bicycle riding accessible to all children.

Since 2003, You Can Ride 2 has enabled children with disabilities to experience the joy of riding a bike. The volunteer-driven group has a borrow a bike pool, learn to ride program, adapt a bike service, and community riding events to help ensure cycling is accessible to all kids.

Every year, children with a diagnosis that makes riding a standard bike challenging can be fitted to a bike and borrow it for the season or have mechanics modify their own bicycle to make riding easier.

“Kids who would never be able to ride a two-wheeler can have that same joy of going out with their families,” said Josh Inniss, program coordinator.

Inniss says an adaptive bike can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000, a cost that makes them inaccessible to many families — especially as kids grow.

“We are really trying to make it as economically accessible as possible,” Inniss said, adding that rental fees are small, can be lowered by volunteering with the group or even subsidized.

Ying Yi Foo, sustainability director, told CTV News Edmonton that before her son was part of the program, he could not ride a standard two-wheel bike.

“When they adapted a bike for him that he could ride, it was like, oh my god, he just found his freedom,” she said.

You Can Ride 2 has already fitted approximately 175 kids this season, Foo said. Not only is finding an accessible bike important, Foo says the community-building aspect the group provides through riding events helps children feel like they are not alone.

“It’s a social inclusive community we are trying to build here,” Foo added. “It does not matter what your abilities are. When you have an adaptive bike, kids can just be kids.”

Melonie Matson’s eight-year-old daughter, Aspyen, was diagnosed with Chromosome 18q-syndrome, preventing her from riding a two-wheeler.

Matson said her family tried to find a bike that would let her daughter ride comfortably for two years.

“When we heard about this program, we thought we would give it a try,” Matson added. “It was like magic.

“All of a sudden she could ride, with just a few adaptations,” Matson said. “It’s significant because now she can ride with her brother and friends on the street.”

For Lacey Potter having an adaptive bicycle for her son, Jason, helps him feel included as he can ride with other kids.

“He’s seen other peers and his brother riding a bike, and so he’s excited to get on one too,” Potter told CTV News. “It’s been really good.

“I’ve seen his confidence improve because of it,” she added. “He feels more accepted into everything now.”

To learn more or donate, visit You Can Ride 2’s website.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Alison MacKinnon

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