When you have a physical challenge and mobility, moving your body, is not easy, sometimes we actually find that these children move better on a bicycle that they do on land or when they are just trying to walk around with walkers and their wheelchairs; they can move faster and sometime easier. The beautiful thing about these trikes is that they are so adaptable, so that we can an individually adapt each bike to take care of the movement challenges and adapt for the movement challenges that the child might be experiencing.
We were able to specialize each bike with adaptations that compensate best for each child's movement challenges. They have a wide variety of seating that can accommodate for differences in range of motion, leg length, muscle strength, trunks supports, back supports, head rests if needed. We can adapt out the pedals so that we can interchange some footplates, and foot blocks if they need it, if they have a leg length. We can swap out hand cranks and handlebars. There's a lot of variability that let us customize these bikes.
I think for me the biggest joy in doing this is the psychological benefit that I see these kids getting from finally being able to do something that their peers take for granted and do so easily. And I said earlier, that they sometimes move better on these bikes and faster and more easily than they can move on land, and it's no fun in the summer to be sitting on the sidelines and watching your friends and this allows them to be not sitting and watching but to be right there doing.
From a physical therapy standpoint, the benefits motorically and physiologically are tremendous. These bikes allow us to help kids work on their range of motion, and strength and endurance and do it is a really fun way. Postural control and motor control. It has so many benefits, physically and psychology.
(In longer version: AMBUCS is a national organization, and were fortunate for the second time to have Joe Copland come up from North Carolina and bring us his trailer full of bikes, so we had one of every type and two of some of the more popular sizes and styles and brands of bikes. He brought a trailer, drove from North Carolina full of bikes and we unloaded it here this morning, with every accessory and every variation that we might possibly need. And this is the second time they've lent us their trailer. It's the only time this year that they'll be doing that. So we're going to begin to fundraise. We need $5,000 in order to purchase our own trailer and our own set of bikes that we will then have in Vermont and we can travel throughout the state and do these customized bikes fitting locally for kids and families.)
Some of the families who have gotten bikes last year have been really great at keeping in touch with us, so we've gotten some emails and photos and updates. One child has already grown out of his bike. He's had a big growth spurt and came back today, and was able to get the next size up. And so we were really excited about that.
But, yeah, we have one guy who continued to ride his bike to school every single day through the winter because his Mom says he's faster on that bike that when he's not.
So, yeah it's been really, really fun.
There's a huge need in the state of Vermont for families to be able to access this type of equipment, because it's nothing that's every paid for. It's health, fitness, recreation, but we all know that that's what gives us a really good quality of life.
I feel so optimistic about this Vermont chapter, our Friends of AMBUCS chapter. Because it's growing all the time. People hear about it and they connect to it. They come and they see these kids and these families and it's work that they want to be involved with. They want to heap with the fundraising, they want to be our bike mechanics, so to speak. And I'm really optimistic.
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