Published on: Friday, May 6, 2016 City Manager & Staff Blog

iCan Shine Bike Camp Success Story: Riding With Lev

From Lucy Neher, Safe Routes to School Coordinator

Helmets, bike bells, spoke lights had been delivered to Piney Branch ES, Takoma Park Middle School,  East Silver Spring ES and Rolling Terrace ES. Parents and school staff got the word out that students should ride to school on May 4, Bike to School Day. The Takoma Park Police Department was on board to help keep riders safe. The weather was checked obsessively.

Photo of elementary school aged students participating in Bike to School Day 2016 in Takoma Park
Bike to School Day 2016 in Takoma Park was a huge success!

And then then the email came:

Subject line: Biking tomorrow.
Message: “Assuming the weather holds, Lev will be there with his bike and t-shirt.  He remembers you saying he’d ride in it…”

LEV! Lev from the iCan Shine Bike Camp wanted to ride to Piney Branch with me on Bike to School Day!

Lev, a student on the Autism Spectrum at Piney Branch, was a rider at the Safe Routes to School hosted iCan Shine Bike Camp in the summer of 2015. Lev worked hard for five days on specially adapted bikes to learn how to ride independently. His Mom bought him a super cool white and neon green cruiser bike of his very own. By the last day of the camp, he graduated to his own bike and earned his day-glo iCan Bike t-shirt. I invited him to ride with me on Bike to School Day the following spring.

Photo of Lucy Neher and iCan Shine Bike Camp graduate Lev pose with their bikes on Bike to School Day 2016 in Takoma Park
Safe Routes to School Coordinator Lucy Neher & iCan Bike Graduate Lev pose for the camera

…and Lev remembered. His Mom contacted me. I arranged for a bike to ride myself.  She shared that he was on the phone telling his aunt about it before bedtime. “This is the first year I’ve been a good enough biker to ride in it. I’ve been a good biker for, oh, ten months now.” So Lev showed up at the meeting point, just like the other kids, and Lev set out on his own steam, just like the other kids and Lev rode up Maple Avenue to school, just like the 70 other kids from Piney Branch. Lev and I rode together. “We’re riding to school together,” I shouted. “I’m trying as hard as I can,” he yelled back.

The iCan Shine Bike Camp will be June 27 – July 1, 2016. Registration open for riders and volunteers. Once again, Takoma Park will host the iCan Shine Bike Camp for students with special needs. Maryland residents between the ages of 8 and 14 are invited to participate free of charge. The camp will be held at Takoma Academy, 8120 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park, June 27 – July 1, 2016. Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age.

Visit the Safe Routes to School page for additional information.