PedNet Teaches Disabled Children to Ride Bikes

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COLUMBIA - Monday kicked off "Lose The Training Wheels," PedNet's educational bike program for children with disabilities. The program goes through July 1 and is in its second year. Volunteers walked and ran around a gymnasium at Christian Fellowship Church with children helping them steer specially-made "roller bikes." The camp's coordinator, Michelle Windmoeller, encouraged more parents to come out with their children.

"This is a great program. We feel like it brings families together and promotes healthiness and some normalcy to a different situation," Windmoeller said. "A lady came to us telling how she heard about the program being offered around the country and asked us to offer it for children in this area."

Suzanne Yonke's son Ethan has autism and she thought it was a great opportunity for her sonto learn how to be independent.

"He's kind of shy so this will hopefully give him some self confidence," Yonke said. "He has a little cousin and she rides a lot so it will give him a chance to be able to join her."

The children progress at their own pace until they are finally able to ride their own bikes outside the church with supervision. One parent who has a son with Down Syndrome said she hopes the program will help him accomplish a new goal.

"Last year he learned how to ride in a straight line, so hopefuly he will master how to turn this year," Barbara Hill said.

Children must be at least 8 years old with a diagnosed disability and have to attend one 75 minute session each day. Several classes are offered throughout the day. The camp still needs more volunteers to commit to at least one 90 minute seesion each day for the rest of the week. For more information on how to volunteer contact Windmoeller at or at 573-268-8816.