For most people, cycling gives them a sense of freedom. Not only does the bicycle allow us to move freely and efficiently but a bike ride is also proven to improve both mental and physical health.
Over 25 years ago Mike Barry Sr. was asked by the Steps program to build several bicycles to help children with special needs learn to ride. Laura Hunter, the program director, had a design in mind and worked with Mike to refine it. The bicycles are still being successfully used and have helped teach 100’s of children to ride. Seeing the joy on a child’s face as he or she takes the few pedal strokes alone is unparalleled. Learning to ride gives them confidence and skills used in other aspects of daily life.
Mike built countless bikes over the years but this was perhaps the project that gave him the greatest joy. His expressions were vivid when he witnessed children who struggled to walk learning to ride. These bicycles allow children unable to ride standard bicycles the opportunity to experience the benefits of cycling.
The bicycles are required to be custom built due to their innovative design. “With thicker tires, lower gear ratios and a lower center of gravity, these special bikes are much easier to balance on, while providing the same tipping feedback that teaches children the techniques required to ride a two-wheeler.”
Although the bikes have endured 25 years of hard use they now need to be repainted and fixed due to some damage. The program would also like two more bikes to increase the number of children they can teach. To pay for the cost of building and refurbishing the bicycles the STEPS program has set up a GoFundMe page. The bicycles will be fixed and built in the Mariposa workshop. Please consider donating to help in this effort to get children with special needs on bicycles.