From its inception in 2014, nearly 200 students have benefited from the William Floyd Bicycle Academy.
Mastic Beach, NY - August 14, 2018 - The William Floyd Bicycle Academy, a program founded by occupational therapist Ed Diaz, just concluded its fifth summer of helping children learn how to ride a bicycle. This summer was the Bicycle Academy’s largest yet with an increase in participants and volunteers in the program as approximately 50 students joined with another 40 learning during integrated occupational therapy. From its inception in 2014, nearly 200 students have benefited from the William Floyd Bicycle Academy.
“There is such a need that people are constantly coming to me all throughout the year,” said Mr. Diaz. “This year we have had an influx in our general education population requesting to join the program. We accommodate as many as we can, always striving to provide one-on-one instruction.”
With learning how to ride independently being the long-term goal, many students made incremental progress along the way including learning how to balance, turn, pedal, start, stop, etc., which are all skills required to ride without assistance.
“I watch their determination grow with each phase, with each move forward and with each momentary difficulty. I hear their words of encouragement to themselves and to others. I see their confidence grow with each and every task tried, practiced and mastered. To me, watching the students’ self-esteem and sense of self-worth continue to grow and flourish is the most important aspect,” added Mr. Diaz.
The program could not be a success without a support system in place such as the volunteers from Carmella Currao’s class who work behind-the-scenes setting up the program each week, as well as Frank Brust, Laurel Colonna, Susan Dubois, Amy Nardi, Lisa Pedota, Ravi Seeram, Josh Young and more. It would also not be possible but for the generous donations from the staff and community including the United Paraprofessional & Teaching Assistant Association, which donated three balance bikes this year.
The William Floyd Bicycle Academy is scheduled to return for a sixth year next summer. All William Floyd students and parents are more than welcome to join, whether as a rider or as a volunteer. Anyone interested is encouraged to email Mr. Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional thoughts by Mr. Diaz on seeing students gaining confidence in themselves:
“The feeling I get is hard to describe. Of course most people understand the pride students feel when they master components of riding a bike or master riding. In our bike program, we have a wide variety of differing needs depending on the unique requirements of our students, some of whom would, in other bike programs, be deemed as having needs that are too involved, require specialized equipment, etc. In our program, we take in all of our students and work with their strengths to help them achieve their specific goals. So, for me, watching the euphoria when one of our students achieves his or her goal is an indescribable feeling especially when a student was deemed or perceived by others to be ‘unable’ to ride a bike (i.e. due to motor delays, physical issues, attention span, learning and planning difficulties, etc.). It’s like witnessing a person experiencing the feeling of hitting a hole in one in golf, or a grand slam in baseball for the very first time. There are really no words to describe it. Of course I am extremely proud of how hard they try, of each and every accomplishment they not only achieve, but also of the ones they strive to achieve. Watching their boost in confidence is a truly gratifying experience for me and it is something I continue to be in awe of. It is the driving force behind what we do and it never gets old.”