Non-Profit Cycling Program Empowers Riders with Disabilities
Photo Courtesy of PEAC
PEAC, or Programs to Educate All Cyclists, is an organization that looks to empower people with disabilities - in their case, through the education, teaching, and encouragement of riding a bike.
Founder and Executive Director John Waterman, a former public school teacher, was inspired to start the program in the late 1980s, and PEAC came to fruition years later in 2004.
With teaching sites around and outside of the state such as Ann Arbor and Toledo, Waterman hopes to bring PEAC to the Capital City. On July 20th, PEAC will be a participant in The Ability Tour at Peckham, which a bike ride "dedicated to raising awareness of people with all abilities."
Waterman and other members of PEAC will be on site to show their techniques in teaching people of all abilities that they too can ride a bicycle.
"We want to give the cycling experience to youngsters who haven't experienced a bike. A majority of them never thought they could ride," says Waterman.
As a part of the PEAC program's involvement with The Ability Tour, members will run an assessment of an individual's abilities and then help with different cycling activities.
Then, Waterman notes, parents will be given homework on what to have their children work on to achieve personal cycling goals.
One big goal for PEAC? Teaching riders with disabilities to use standard bicycles.
"We don't want to use specialized bikes. We want people to experience biking on regular bikes," says Waterman. If a regular bike isn't the best option for a rider, PEAC also uses tandem bikes, adaptive trikes, and full adult-sized trailers in the program.
Teaching the two-wheel bike is easy, he says, but the safety skills are of most concern. PEAC helps riders graduate from a closed course, to bike paths, to city streets as they gain experience and learn the importance of safety.
PEAC also promotes individual fitness -- Waterman notes that the obesity rate is significant in the disabled community -- as well as integrated recreation and self advocacy. PEAC encourages its students to get involved in the political process, learning their voices are important.
Ultimately, Waterman says PEAC's program are important because there's just something about riding a bike.
"Cycling is a milestone. You remember your first bike, and learning to ride a bike. Behind walking or saying your first words, achieving riding a bike is a boost to your self esteem."
Waterman hopes that participating in The Ability Tour will bring more awareness to the PEAC program, helping people with disabilities in the Capital City area gain self worth, gain independence, and learn how to ride a bike.