Fredericton program gives adaptive bikes to people with motor disabilities

·2 min read
Claire McCloskey, 9, rides an adaptive bike that was fully funded through the Bikes 'n' Trikes program at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton.   (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)
Claire McCloskey, 9, rides an adaptive bike that was fully funded through the Bikes 'n' Trikes program at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton. (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)

Annie McCloskey once worried that she wouldn't be able to get a proper bike for her daughter Claire, who has cerebral palsy — a motor disability that affects her ability to move and maintain balance and posture.

Claire, 9, needs a modified bike specifically tailored to her abilities, but this can cost thousands of dollars.

"Claire can't just ride any normal bike," said the Fredericton mother, adding her daughter uses a wheelchair or a walker most of the time.

McCloskey said she remembered being in the bike aisle of a store and looking at the bikes lined up on display.

"I would have loved to have just bought her a bike going into spring but I knew it wouldn't work for her," she said recalling the moment from several years ago.

McCloskey said she knew modified bikes were available for people with neuromotor disabilities, but they come with a hefty price tag.

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

Through conversations with Claire's physiotherapist, McCloskey learned of a program being offered at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton that is geared toward getting bikes for people with neuromotor disabilities.

Tracy Ferguson is the coordinator for the Bikes 'n' Trikes program and said clients of the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation qualify to be put on a wait list for an evaluation and funding.

"We completely and totally fund the bikes for each child, and every child gets the bike they need," she said.

The assessment process determines what type of bike or parts a person requires, as some people may require just a few parts to modify a bike, which could cost around $500.

But other clients require more and modified bikes can are expensive — as much as $6,700.

Claire received a bike through the program about two years ago, and now she's able to ride a bike with her cousins.

She keeps her bike at school, where she rides it daily.

Claire loves the outdoors and has gone on bike rides as along as 45 minutes.

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

Her mother said she's always smiling while riding the bike.

She's able to pedal the bike independently, but her bike has handlebars for someone to help push her along.

"It just gives her something a little more to do than just sitting in her wheelchair. She can pedal a little, and hold on to the bars, ring the bells," said her mother Annie.

Tracy Ferguson said community leaders and businesses fund the Bikes 'n' Trikes program through the Chalmers Foundation.

She said there's no age limit for people to qualify for the program — and that they've had applicants as young as three.

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