July 2021 – It was a moment Paisley will always remember: the day she learned how to ride a bike. Gena Torres remembers that moment as well; she’s the volunteer that taught Paisley how to ride.
“It was such an honor to participate in the iCan Bike program this summer,” the TPO executive planner fondly recalled. “The iCan Bike program is national, very organized, and highly satisfying for the riders and the volunteers. I recommend participating the next time they are in town.”
The iCan Bike program is for people with disabilities ages eight and up, a vast majority of whom will never experience the thrill of independently riding a two-wheel bicycle during their lifetime. On June 14, 2021, Bike/Walk Tampa Bay (BWTB) launched its annual iCan Bike Tampa Bay event with support from iCan Shine, the USF Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR), the University Area CDC and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Seven. During the five-day camp, 23 children and young adults with disabilities were provided individualized support with one goal in mind: to teach participants to ride conventional two-wheel bicycles and become lifelong independent riders.
Although Gena helped Paisley achieve that goal, she admits she achieved so much more.
“Paisley loved to sing Taylor Swift songs, laugh, and give hugs. But she started out not wanting to ride at all, to pedaling on her own.”
According to Gena, the challenge was worthwhile for the two of them. Because, today, like many other iCan Bike participants, Paisley can ride.
The iCan Bike program is part of an international program called iCan Shine. The program “provides quality learning opportunities in recreational activities for individuals with disabilities.” For more information about iCan Shine programs, visit www.icanshine.org.