Things going on here: Lose the Training Wheels

LTTWThis week I'm volunteering once again for Lose the Training Wheels.  It's such a great program!  Riding a bike is a crucial part of being a kid in the world, and for many of us, it's a crucial part of being a mobile adult (I get to my job every single day by riding my bike--I do love living in downtown Charleston).  As you'll know if you read the link above, a very small percentage of kids with Down syndrome and autism learn to ride bikes--but they can learn to ride bikes if they're given appropriate support and opportunities to practice.

I'm working this week with a woman named Michelle.  She is terrified of riding a bike.  So terrified that as she gets on her two-wheeled bike and rides around the warehouse or, this morning, the huge empty parking lot outside, she often repeats, "I'm so scared!  I'm so scared!"  Meanwhile, she rides her bike.  This, as I keep reminding her, is the definition of courage:  being scared and then doing the thing anyway.  She is a rock star, and I keep reminding her of that, as well, as I race around beside her, trying not to collapse from exhaustion while she zooms on her bike.

I have two quick stories from LTTW.  One is the story of wounds.  Yesterday, shortly after she got up on her two-wheeled bike, Michelle wrecked, and I fell on top of her.  (This was a moment of feeling like the world's worst LTTW volunteer.)  She skinned her knee a bit, and scraped her knuckles.  Fortunately, right before this incident, one of the LTTW staff had told me that a core principle of LTTW is that falls happen, and you just get back on the bike immediately.

Another fortunate thing is that I live with someone for whom a core principle is that wounds are cool. You get scraped up, and then you get to show off the scabs and scars as badges of honor.  So I quickly shared that information with Michelle.  As we walked over to get a drink of water, I said, "Do you want me to call Biffle?  He'll tell you how cool it is to scrape up your knee."  She did indeed want to hear what Biffle had to say about wounds.  So the two of them had a lengthy cell phone conversation.  At one point Michelle said, "No, there's no blood," and I knew for a fact that on the other end of the phone, Biffle was saying, "Oh, well that's too bad.  It's cooler if there's blood.  But it's still pretty cool that you got scraped up."  (And I was right.)

The second story is that when we were standing in a group today another volunteer said to Michelle, "Come on, girlfriend."  Michelle looked at her, scandalized, and said, "You're not my girlfriend.  Girls marrying girls is gross."  I paused for a second, sort of gauging whether anybody else was going to say something.  When nobody did, I said, "You know, Michelle, sometimes girls marry girls, and sometimes boys marry boys, and sometimes girls marry boys.  You get to marry whoever you want.  It's not gross."  One of the event coordinators was walking by, and she said, affirmatively, "We're in a whole new world."  Right on.


Anonymous said...

Awwww. love that photo! Kayli is this.close to learning how to tie her shoes and to ride a bike. Unfortunately we live in a very hilly area which doesn't help. Fortunately she has a least on parent who is very active (not me sadly) and he has a bike with an attachment bike which she adores and other kids think is supercool.

Cate Bush said...

Alison! This is so cool - I loved your stories from last year and I'm enjoying hearing about this year's experiences too. What an awesome thing you're doing!

Danielle said...

so cool! Oddly enough, we had to put my daughter's training wheels BACK ON today which was somewhat discouraging, but all things in due time I suppose!

claire said...

Go Michelle! And Alison you are concentrating in that picture (and is it as hot as it looks?). And did you get any cool wounds or did you let Michelle bear the brunt of the fall??