A friend of mine, Laura, asked me if I would come shoot some pictures for her just before Christmas, Christmas Eve to be exact. I talked about Laura here, and she is an super amazing person! Of course I replied YES 'cause it involved a camera and me and photos so what's not to love! And what started as merely picture taking, became my privilege. My privilege to witness the smiles and see the joy, and see how all of God's work is truly perfect.
Lose The Training Wheels is a non-profit organization that helps children with disabilities learn how to ride bicycles. Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but it is. It really really is! I don't remember the statistics, but the percentage of special need's kiddos with mental disabilities that learn to ride a bicycle is almost nill. And besides the obvious joy the children get from learning to ride a bicycle, they come out of the experience with higher self esteems and self-confidence and a new found independence... things that don't come so easily to those with extra challenges.
So indeed it was my privilege to watch God's handiwork unfold and be able to document a little bit of it.
The bicycles are all customized with special seats and wheels and some safety features.
Then every rider has two volunteers that stays with him or her the entire week. Two volunteers right by there side the whole time. To steer them on the right course, catch them if they fall, guide their path. If you think the smiles on the rider's faces is good, be sure to look at the smiles on the volunteer's faces as you thumb through the pictures! This gift of giving was the best one yet!
Let's start with the fact that sometimes, it's even hard to find the courage to even get on the bike!
... and then she even gives way to a smile.
This sweet young thing always had a smile on her face! Every time she'd go around the gymnasium floor, she'd come by... grinning at every turn!
This is N. He is Laura's son. He too made the huge transition to independently riding!
As a mama, this part makes me cry. They are tears of joy and blessings and gratitude!
This is Laura, watching her only son, ride a bicycle for the first time.
And when the rider gets good enough, they go outside. Then the volunteers really get to burn some calories!
Laura is literally shouting with joy to N, "Look, I'm not holding on!" It was really hard to tell who was having more fun!
This is M. There was a storm that was clearing off and there is just something about these images that again makes me take a moment and breathe in the gratitude. The storm giving way to light. The drizzle giving way to empowerment. Whatever it is, look at her go!
So here's the thing- There were tears everyday that I was there. Some from the participants from fear. But most of the tears were from sheer joy, when one emotion is so very strong that it transitions to another. Most of the tears were from the mamas and the volunteers that were also privileged to bare witness to these magical days. I couldn't help myself either.
After my winy-complaining-mess-of-a-post yesterday, I think this is just what I needed!