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Summer camp gives the support needed for children to find their confidence

Posted at 9:11 AM, Jul 10, 2024

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx — Tuesday began a week of learning for a group of children and teens with disabilities.

It was the start of the iCan Bike Corpus Christi Camp at First United Methodist Church.

Margeux Rendall brought the camp to Corpus Christi in 2022, seeing of success for campers.

"We helped 20 kids and a lot of them left riding on their own bike from home. So, it was really rewarding to see that," Rendall said.

Rendall's son Gavin has Down Syndrome and it inspired her to bring the camp to town. This kind of camp is held in many major cities thanks to the iCan Shine Network, a non-profit organization.

"It's a little bit harder for him to ride a bike," she said. "He's seeing his younger sister ride a bike. He is really wanting to keep up with her and just needs more support to do that. And I know, this camp will really help him build the skills he needs to be independent on a bicycle."

Rendall said there's research that shows children with disabilities that don't know how to do certain things like ride a bike, miss out on recreational and social activities.

That's partly why Daisy Reyes has her daughter in the camp.

“My daughter got on the bike, she seemed a little bit nervous and she was definitely making some friends with the volunteers. But, it’s awesome just seeing her start doing the laps around the gym,” Reyes said.

Reyes said her daughter wants to be with her friends and be able to ride her bike to school. Reyes knows that when she accomplishes this, she have gained more than the knowledge to ride a bike.

“I could tell my daughter’s going to boost her confidence by like 1,000%. She’s super excited just to be here day one. And so, I can see her making a lot of strides and having a whole lot of confidence,” Reyes said.

Rendall said a few people from the iCan Shine network come in to teach the children on specialized bikes. They do this in small groups in multiple sessions throughout the day, so each camper gets the appropriate amount of support they need.

The campers can be timid at first, but Reyes said they warm up to the volunteers before beginning to enjoy themselves. For some they get it right away, others will need all five days of camp to fully grasp it.

Reyes is volunteering at the camp as well as Aislinn Navarro. What makes Navarro happy to do this is seeing how good it makes the children feel about themselves.

“There’s a power in learning a new skill whether it be biking, or swimming, or being able to shoot a basketball, doing anything. For all of us, when we learn a new skill we are really, really proud of ourselves and we get to feel a different kind of joy,” Navarro said.

Navarro gained a step-sister who has Down Syndrome. Navarro moved high schools and got involved in extracurriculars to learn more about her step-sister and be able to support her.

Her step-sister took part in the camp in 2022 and that's what made Navarro want to take part this year.

"It's really important that they're able to continue to grow afterwards and they're able to refine the skill. Because, it doesn't just take five days, it takes a lot more and it takes a lot of people, a lot of support," she said.

The threat of Hurricane Beryl pushed the start of the camp back from Monday to Tuesday.

For parents interested in registering their children for next summer's camp, they can follow iCan Bike Corpus Christi on Facebook and look for the registration notice in the spring.

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