Cycling program empowers students at Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Grasping the handlebars and pushing the pedals are seemingly simple motions, but these bikes have a much greater purpose.

“It’s fun because I’m independent!” Kiarra, an elementary student, exclaimed.

“This really highlights the fact that the bike is the ultimate equalizer,” Tom Hanley, Nine13 Sports CEO, said.

Students at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired have spent the past four weeks working with the Nine13 Sports program.

“You can see it in their legs when they’re moving that they become more fluid and that they can do it on their own instead of us having to help them and they can continue to push themselves,” ISBVI physical education teacher Cara Burchett said.

The bikes are set up on a stationary system and connected to a computer program simulating various courses.

“We've had a lot of fun discussions about why is the bike getting harder why is the bike getting easier,” Hanley explained.

“It helps me stay strong and make me get some energy, more, more energy!” Kiarra said with a smile while pedaling furiously on the bike.

For many students who are visually impaired, this is their first opportunity to get on a bike and provides an activity that can help them be more active and healthy throughout their lives.

“These students as they grow up can get involved with gyms, go to spin classes and use this as a tool to stay fit for a lifetime,” Hanley said.

Nine13 Sports started working with traditional schools five years ago but this initiative at ISBVI initiative is brand new, thanks to a sponsorship from Regions Bank.

“These students in particular should have the same opportunities any students have and kids have, to get on a bike and know how it feels and have that freedom and independence and the fun that it brings. And so our ability to bring that to as many students as possible and help Nine13 Sports with their mission is a great fit." Leslie Carter-Prall, Regions Bank area president, said.

And that mission is one that will impact these students well beyond the bike.

“This is just a great way to enable students to realize they can do anything they put their minds to and they can achieve and find success with hard work,” Hanley said.

ISBVI and Nine13 plan to continue the program in the fall semester, working with students of various grade levels.

To learn more about Nine13 Sports and follow their programs throughout central Indiana, click here.