Occupational Therapy Program Helps Students Achieve Childhood Rite of Passage

Written by WFSD News  |  31. July 2014

Mastic Beach, NY, July 30, 2014 – A group of William Floyd teachers, teaching assistants and others, led by William Floyd School District occupational therapist Ed Diaz, have been volunteering to help students with a childhood rite of passage – learning to ride a bicycle.

Each Friday for five weeks throughout the summer, this small but dedicated group of volunteers have been meeting with nine students and their parents in a makeshift bicycle course in between William Floyd High School and William Paca Middle School to teach the skills necessary to ride a bicycle.

“Some students struggle with motor control and riding a bike can be challenging,” said Stacey Scalise, Assistant Director of Special Education for the William Floyd School District. “This is a wonderful opportunity for them to gain confidence and learn in a controlled environment.”

“Over the years, I have come across many of my students who, despite having the basic ability level to ride a bike, never learned,” said Mr. Diaz. “The fact is that most of them are very capable; they just need to work at their own pace and without the feeling of being stressed.”

The students began with training wheels and customized handles attached to the back of the bicycles, which gives the adults the ability to help maintain control and lessen the fear of falling. According to Mr. Diaz, each student first learns how to apply the brakes and come to a complete stop, pedal in a cadence and even go downhill. By the third lesson, a few of the students were able to ride without assistance for the first time.

“Fortunately, I work with amazing special education teachers and volunteers who know the best way to meet our students’ needs, while ensuring everyone has a great time,” said Mr. Diaz. “Every child deserves to learn how to ride a bike. For some kids it just takes a little longer.”

In addition to Mr. Diaz, the volunteers include William Floyd teachers Josh Young, Jen Mayhew, Susan Dubois, Danielle Pallace, Bryan Savage and Alyssa Tepper; teaching assistant Sheri Egert and occupational therapist student volunteer Kristina Galang from SUNY Buffalo.

Mr. Diaz hopes to hold another bike program during the upcoming school year. For additional information, interested William Floyd parents are encouraged to email him at ediaz@wfsd.k12.ny.us.

Above: William Floyd teachers and bicycle program volunteers Danielle Pallace and Josh Young help students learn to ride their bicycles.

Below: William Floyd Occupational Therapist Ed Diaz helps a student ride a bicycle for the first time without training wheels.

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