Lose the training wheels — bike therapy

In my other life, I’m a writing teacher. I teach a weekly memoir-writing class for senior citizens in Chicago, and I give seminars on writing at libraries and conferences.

After a writing seminar at the Oak Park Public Library last week, a teenager came up to chat.

“I have a poem published on the internet,” she said.

I was impressed, but I was busy signing books. I didn’t have time to ask what the poem was about. “Send me the link,” I told her.

She did.

Her poem is published on a Web site called Lose the Training Wheels.

It turns out the teenager is an identical twin. She and her sister were born prematurely, though, and the teen writer participated in a bike therapy program at Easter Seals DuPage.

Lose the Training Wheels describes the poem — and the Easter Seals DuPage program — like this:

The author is Jessica, who at age 11, attended an adapted bike camp sponsored by Easter Seals DuPage in 2003, (a suburb west of Chicago).

When a child is able to master riding a bicycle — and without those dreaded training wheels — the benefits become instantly evident. The child smiles, and the child desires to get onto the bike to ride around. Self-esteem experiences perhaps an exhilarating lifetime high. Humiliation is vanquished.

Here’s Jessica’s poem. I think it’s great:

Learning to Ride — A Poem About Bike Riding
By Jessica

Unconquerable, undefeated, and proud
The wheels turning,
People whizzing past my face,
I wanted to learn
I wanted to ride
But I just couldn’t

My pink bike with “balance wheels”
People laughing,
As I felt hurt down deep within

I tried and tried but fell
It was frustrating
But I got back up again and tried again and again

Finally, the pink bike — the “balance wheels” gone forever
I felt like a mighty king at the top of a mountain,
Who was now unconquerable, undefeated, and proud.

I’d be proud, too. Ride on, Jessica!


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