I thought I’d share one of Joel’s recent endeavors: I Can Bike Camp.
I can Bike is a five day camp for people with down syndrome and related conditions who can’t ride bikes. I first heard of this camp while watching an episode of born This Way. I thought it was very cool and thought Joel would benefit from it, but I was like they’ll never come here. And I was right, they hosted a camp almost an hour from where we live but I was like close enough! (Shout out to Up21 in Mandeville for paying half of the camp cost and paying for the bike![:)
Most people with down syndrome have a lot of trouble balancing, like Joel usually has trouble sitting in chairs with no backs and on swings. He hasn’t fallen off a swing in a while but you can clearly see he is trying hard not keep his balance.
So anyways, I Can Bike turned out to be a super cool experience. He really liked it despite his facial expression during each session. He was so serious, never smiled, and would just give a shifty glance every time he rolled passed us. Once again I would compare this to the other participants who roll passed their families and say, “I love you” or “hi mom.” But when we would leave fro the day, he would be all giggly and cute. The other parents said things like, “wow he means business” and “he’s serious, he came to learn and not to play.” This was a better perspective than mine honestly, I was thinking he’s just mean to us in front of others. Whichever is true, it’s okay!
Joel did very well all the days of the camp except the last one, probably because it was more independent the lat day. He took his first fall and scraped his knee. If this would have happened at home, he would’ve gotten mad and kicked whatever was near him. He did get mad however, since the volunteers and staff at I Can Bike are trained to praise them when they fall, Joel kept his cool and was encouraged to get back one.
A few days after camp we took him to the park to practice with us. He was really excited at first and wouldn’t stop giggling when we got him on. But he would freak out when we would let him go. He yelled, “Aquel Help!” (He calls me Aquel instead of Raquel.) every time I let go. He would go on for a minute and then panic. But we preserved on and finally got him to pedal without us holding his back and handle. It took about two hours to go through the park which would normally takes like 45ish minute. But once he got a hang of it, he finished the track with no issue, just non stop giggles.
It may have taken 17 years but, Joel can finally ride a bike!