New Brunswick

Learn-to-ride program helps kids gain a skill they'll never forget

Zooming on your bike on a sunny day is an integral part of childhood. But not everyone finds it easy to learn how to get on that bike.

Rothesay eight-week program running this summer

On the first day, kids get fitted for their bikes and learn how to balance. (Sue Lawton/Submitted)

Zooming on your bike on a sunny day is an integral part of childhood. But not everyone finds it easy to learn how to get on that bike.

Some kids have coordination problems, anxiety, other physical learning challenges.

That's where You Can Ride 2 comes in. It's a free, six-week learn-to-ride program for kids ages eight to 12. The New Brunswick chapter is run by coach and pediatric physiotherapist Sue Lawton.

"A lot of these kids who are older and haven't learned to ride yet, they think that they can't learn, and they've already given up, or they think they're the only kid their age that hasn't learned to ride yet," Lawton old Information Morning Saint John.

"So we put them together in a group, and they realize that there are other kids their age that haven't learned, and they have a fun time learning." 

The program is open to kids between eight and 12 years old. (Sue Lawton/Submitted)

Lawton has worked one-on-one with kids in the past and wanted to be able to help more kids at once. She said for this year's Rothesay program, the group has a volunteer coach for each rider. 

The program takes kids based on their situation and physical needs, especially older kids who have already tried to learn with their parents or on their own.

Lawton said the key is breaking it down step by step. Where do your feet go, where should you be looking, when should you pedal?

"We give them plenty of repetition," she said.

But even the most experienced bike riders have a tumble every once in a while. Lawton incorporates that into the training too. She teaches kids how to fail correctly, she said.

Lawton said most kids are confidently riding their bikes by the time the six weeks are up, some in a couple of weeks.

Eight kids took part last year, and six learned to ride. The other two are back this year.

The first session started three weeks ago, and "the kids are already making great gains," she said.

This year's program is full, but Lawton wants to run a program annually. There won't be another program until next year, but if parents need help teaching their kids, she can still help.

"When a child learns to ride a bike, not only that, they have an option for physical activity, but it sure is a social skill as well," she said.

She said the program is funded by sponsorships and volunteers.

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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