Monday, 18 July 2011

REFLECTIONS ~ "Lose The Training Wheels" Camp ~ Victoria

It's been quite the week!  Last Monday morning Alisdair could not ride a two-wheeler.  But this Monday, he can!  And it is all thanks to a wonderful non-profit organization called "Lose the Training Wheels," some dedicated volunteers and the Queen Alexandra Hospital for Children in Victoria, British Columbia.

One Sunday afternoon in mid-May, Alisdair and Isobel and I went down to the local school.  Both kids were on their bikes (with training wheels) and I was walking between them.  One would get stuck, and then the other, and I'd have to take turns, pushing them a bit to get them going again.  Some insensitive folk drove by and stared at Alisdair, as he is almost 12, and I suppose they hadn't seen such a large kid using training wheels to ride.  The whole incident frustrated and upset me.  I wondered what we could do about the situation and began to search on the internet.

Yes, there were special bikes that could be purchased for large sums of money.  But, even if we bought a special bike for Alisdair, he would still be singled out from other children of his age group.  And then I found what seemed like the answer... "Lose the Training Wheels!"

As I watched a video of a camp held in Victoria, British Columbia, a couple of years ago, (see previous video post), the tears streamed freely down my face.  Although Alisdair made fun of my emotional outburst, he, too was inspiried by the clip.  He phoned his grandma and told her about our discovery and mused about how wonderful it might be if only he could attend a "Lose the Training Wheels" camp.

I emailed the organizers to ask if they still had spaces available and was told originally that it was only for children within their therapy program, but they would let me know if, after the local registration deadline, there were spaces left.  True to her word, a few days later, Sara emailed back saying there was room if Alisdair wanted to come.  This was terrific news but there were still a lot of hurdles to overcome if we were to go.  After all, Victoria is a long way from our prairie home and we needed to get there, have a place to stay once we'd arrived, have transportation to the recreation centre where the camp was being held, to find a replacement for our paper route, find someone to look after Isobel, etc. etc.  I wasn't sure we could manage everything the whole concept entailed, but I emailed Sara back and asked for a few days to check out the possibilities.

And then, suddenly, all the pieces of the puzzle started fitting together.  WestJet announced a seat sale and, although the tickets would still be costly, they were now a bit cheaper.  In fact, the difference in price between booking flights and riding on the Greyhound bus, was only about $30.00.  Grandma and Grandpa were willing to look after Isobel and Alisdair's friend, Rolland, agreed to do the paper route for the week.  It seemed like God wanted us to get to the camp and so I told Sara we would come.  She kindly agreed to hold a spot for us.  Shortly afterwards, Canada Post went on strike and it took some time to get our application sent in.  But Sara patiently kept our spot for us.

So it was that on Sunday, July 10th, Alisdair and I flew out from Edmonton to Victoria to prepare for an exciting and unforgettable week.  It was actually a six-day trip, with five days at bike camp.  But in those few days, he was able to accomplish something that he couldn't manage to do in about five years of trying ... he learned to ride a bike without assistance.  We will always remember this amazing life-changing experience and the blessing "Lose the Training Wheels" has been to our family.

We both want to share our week with you, so watch for future posts about the camp and our trip to the west coast.  Once I get our pictures downloaded (and our suitcase unpacked) we'll be composing lots of posts about Alisdair's journey to "Lose the Training Wheels."

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