For most kids, it’s a right of passage. They start with training wheels as a parents’ helping hands guide them along. Soon the training wheels come off and the wobbly, narrow frame slowly picks up speed and glides across the pavement.
It’s an activity as common to children as losing their first tooth, or learning to tie a shoe, but some may never experience it.
A partnership between Variety, the Children’s Charity, and BLaST Intermediate Unit 17 seeks to turn riding a bike into a reality for kids with disabilities.
“The goal is to enable kids with disabilities to live life to the fullest. To not be sitting on the porch watching while the other kids ride a bike,” said Charlie LaVellee, CEO of Variety, the Children’s Charity.
The group offers three programs for children who live with disabilities – My Bike, My Stroller, and My Voice.
Adaptive bikes are fitted to the child and allow them to peddle if they are able, and then relax when they need to and have someone else push them. The My Stroller program provides kids with lightweight adaptive strollers allowing them to travel down busy streets, through stores, and on walks with their friends and family.
The third program, My Voice, enables children with communication disorders to use a device to speak with others.
LaVellee encouraged parents and guardians to apply for as many of these programs they believe they need.
“I don’t want the parents asking, ‘Which one matters the most?’ If they are eligible for all three, then they can get all three,” he said.
The Variety organization is based in Wexford, PA., near Pittsburg. At its recent event with BLaST, 15 adaptive bikes and two adaptive strollers were handed out.
LaVellee said he hopes to find every child eligible for the program in BLaST’s four-county service area – Bradford, Lycoming, Tioga and Sullivan counties.