Program helps kids with disabilities prove ‘I Can Bike’

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jun 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-04 23:25:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah teens who have disabilities are learning how to hit the trails on special mountain bikes made just for them.

Parents say it’s part of a program that’s transforming lives, and Elijah Palmer got all geared up on Saturday morning.

"Alright, ready?" asks an instructor at the National Ability Center.

He raced off onto an oval course, set up with obstacles, on an adaptive mountain bike.

"BAM! That's how you do it!" the announcer said excitedly.

A play-by-play of Elijah’s every move poured from the speakers.

"Elijah's up over the big barrier, all three wheels!" yelled the announcer.

Just a year ago, taking on this course would have seemed impossible. Elijah battles a developmental disability.

"It's hard for Elijah to do a lot of things," said his father, Steven Palmer.

The teen had never been able to ride a bike, until he attended the “I Can Bike” camp last year, and joined the Elevate program through the Utah High School Cycling League and National Ability Center (NAC).

"To see him ride for the first time was really an awesome experience," Palmer said.

The adaptive cycles and trained instructors give kids like Elijah a chance to be just like anyone else their age.

"They can train with us weekly here at the National Ability Center,” explained NAC Sports and Rec Program Manager Steve Robinson. “We will easily transition them over to their high school mountain bike team, so they can be a part of the team in their high school."

Not only do these kids learn the sport and compete on a team, he said the program changes their lives.

The Palmers know that first hand.

"He's been able to communicate and be on the team," Palmer said. "All the kids say hi to him, and it's really boosted his confidence. It's really transformative."

Now, the whole Palmer family has picked up biking.

"It's really a great thing we can do together," he said.

Saturday’s Demo Day at the NAC let students try out the different mountain bikes, and learn about the program. That way other families can see what’s possible.

"He knows that he can do hard things," Palmer said. "Once he learned how to ride a bike, he starts wondering what else he can do."

He said Elijah plans to ride on the Elevate team again this fall, and will no doubt keep conquering.

Click on the links learn more about the Utah High School Cycling League and the Elevate program.

This year’s “I Can Bike” camp will take place from June 20-24 at Summit Academy High. Click here for more information.