Developing the Special Needs Channel in your Territory

 SpecialNeeds

As we shared at our September Distributor Meetings about our success in the special needs channel, we realized that many of you are experiencing the same feelings we initially had when we began communicating with special needs groups and families. “Am I saying the right things?” “How do I interact with them?” “Am I going to offend someone?” “Can I really do this?”

Our biggest difficulty was overcoming our initial fear and simply getting involved with their organizations, but we quickly learned how to interact with these awesome children and families. The good news: it isn’t difficult interacting and talking with them. In fact, it’s a lot of fun and incredibly rewarding! Remember, they’re people just like you and me.

While there will be differences in cultures and how organizations operate in different countries, we thought it would be helpful to share some suggestions and hopefully reduce your anxiety, allowing you to move forward confidently into this new channel. Susie and Dona weren’t experts in special needs when they started, but they continue to learn every day. The success stories and experiences that they share with us leave us speechless. We are so proud of what Susie and Dona are doing!

Please keep in mind this channel is very large and very broad. We have only begun to tap into the vast number of areas that STRIDER bikes can help with! In the first year of focusing on this unique market, we looked in many different directions and found that our bikes are a great fit for kids and adults of ALL abilities! We’ve been sayin for years that if a child can walk, they can ride a STRIDER–and the same is true for people with special needs!!

Since we cannot devote all of our manpower and resources to this new channel, we had to narrow our focus and determine where we could make the biggest impact right away. The two groups Dona and Susie are focusing on for the next 12 months are Down syndrome and Special Olympics. These are the two groups we can offer the most support and assistance in the special needs market, and unless you are passionate about—or have knowledge in another area—we encourage you to focus on these two groups as well.

Here are a few ideas to get you moving in the right direction:

  1. Watch and share this video from the 2014 Special Olympics STRIDER Exhibition Race.
    Everyone who watches this will be amazed by what they see and begin to imagine new possibilites for people with special needs who’ve been told for years they will never be able to ride a bike!
    SOExhibitionRace.Still
  2. Translate our “Special Needs Bikes” web page into your language and add this page to your web site: https://striderbikes.ca/special-needs-bikes
    1. This page has a wealth of information, including testimonials and appropriate verbiage.
    2. Links to additional photos and videos featuring children with special needs are available below for use on your website until you are able to build up your own library of photos and videos:

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/striderbikes/sets/72157645790194740/
      https://www.flickr.com/photos/striderbikes/sets/72157645331808250/
      https://www.flickr.com/photos/striderbikes/sets/72157644350344338/
      https://www.flickr.com/photos/striderbikes/sets/72157647554472129/

  3. Find a family member, or a friend, who has a child with special needs.
    Again, the groups we are focusing on are Down syndrome and Special Olympics. Regardless of the group you ultimately decide to work with, it’s critical that it’s a group you are excited and compassionate about!
    1. If the child is willing to try riding a STRIDER™, give them a bike and see if it helps the child learn to ride over the course of a couple weeks.
      1. This is also a great way to begin interacting with children with special needs and build confidence that you can interact with the children, their parents, and the doctors and specialist who work with them.
      2. Use training ideas from the STRIDER Camp® curriculum to help the child learn how to ride. They may need additional time to practice the exercises, so be sure to encourage their parents to work with them at home too.
    2. If the child is successful riding a STRIDER, get some pictures of the child riding their STRIDER and encourage the parents to spread the word to other people in their special needs network! You will be amazed at the amount of exposure and outreach you can get from one or two testimonials and pictures!!
  4. Find a person in the special needs community who understands how STRIDER bikes can benefit children with special needs and their families.
    1. Partner with this person to help develop the special needs channel and access the national level organizations.
  5. Research what special needs groups and organizations exist and get involved with one of their small events/benefits.
    1. Give the organization 1 to 3 STRIDER bikes to help raise money for their event and begin to access the channel.
    2. Attend their event and talk to people about STRIDER, and what is happening in the US and the rest of the world with Strider and special needs organizations. Share the pictures and videos of children with special needs riding STRIDER bikes.
    3. Find the local Special Olympics office and talk with them.
      1. Take them out for coffee and show them our special needs videos to prove that STRIDER bikes can help children with special needs.

  6. Visit the rehabilitation department of local hospitals, and talk to the Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists about STRIDER bikes. 
    1. Remember, EVERY child is different, and the specific exercises that work for one child might not work for another. As we talk with therapists in the US, we are continually learning of new and different uses and applications of how therapists are using STRIDER bikes to help children with special needs! Keep in mind that a few testimonials go a long way!!!
  7. After items 1 through 6 are completed, please report what you have learned back to Strider, and we will offer more customized support and advice for your situation. 

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