Remember when you learned to ride a bicycle? The freedom, the fun, the sense of accomplishment...
Learning that skill can be more difficult for children with disabilities. A national non-profit program helps them Lose the Training Wheels.
Monday morning, wheels were turning inside the gym at the Tennessee School for the Deaf.
The campers were learning to ride bikes.
"We have a lot of kids in our community and in East Tennessee with disabilities. That one typical thing that they want to do that all the other kids are doing that doesn't come naturally is riding a bike," Kelly Brickey said.
She is Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Awareness Group (DSAG).
"Some of the things that they face are low muscle tone, problems with coordination and balance, just that hand eye coordination," Brickey said.
The campers will attend sessions all week, Monday through Friday. The expectation is by Friday they will Lose the Training Wheels.
"As they begin to progress through the week we just see their confidence blossom and they just become so excited," Sharon Colantonio said.
This is Sharon Colantonio's seventh season with Lose the Training Wheels. She travels across the country with the non-profit organization.
"Just the excitement on the families' faces and you know that you're opening up a whole new opportunity for the family to do an activity together," Colantonio said.
Kelly Brickey said, "Our goal is to see that the majority of these kids and these teens, and we have some in their 20s that are doing it this week, will be riding around this job and in the parking lot independently on a two wheel bike Friday."
DSAG brought Lose the Training Wheels to Knoxville, the Lose the Training Wheels staff oversees the sessions, and volunteers provide the critical hands on aspect.
"We've got 20 campers every day. Volunteers are running beside the kids, they're helping them balance, they are helping them if they lose that balance so they don't hit the floor, they're encouraging them. Volunteers is what's making the whole thing happen," Brickey said.
By the end of the week, most of the campers will be riding bikes. Even those who don't quite master the skill will be more confident. And everyone will enjoy the experience.
This is the first time the program has come to Knoxville and it took a lot of planning but the effort will be worth it.
"They're going to be able to do the things that the other kids on the block are doing and they're just going to feel really really good about themselves. And they're going to be excited about it," Brickey said.
We'll be back Friday to celebrate their success.
The next stop for Lose the Training Wheels is next week in Nashville.