"You can do it!" yells 10-year-old Arabella as she cheers on her peers who are tackling riding bikes for the first time. Arabella has cerebral palsy, which causes her to lose her balance easily, but give this girl a set of wheels and she can keep up with any kid her age.
Several years ago, Arabella had the chance to try out a balance bike with larger wheels. With advice from an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist, her family ordered her a customized bicycle, and she hasn’t stopped since.
Thanks to a GoodLife Kids Grant, families in Winnipeg can continue to try out specially adapted kids' bicycles at the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation.
“Many children with physical disabilities end up sitting on the sidelines while their family and friends are being active. We find a bike that works for them and help them get active and join in on the fun,” said Christine Schollenberg, executive director.
There are bicycles with all kinds of adaptations to suit various needs - like head support, trunk support and low riders for kids who need more stability. Once families find the right bike for their child, they can order one of their own with funding through the program.
Arabella’s father Trevor says the adapted bicycle was the starting point for Arabella discover her love of cycling. She's since grown out of her balance bike and plans to donate it back to the centre so another little girl can enjoy it.
“Now we ride together as a family and Arabella has a regular bike," says Trevor. "We learned that she doesn’t have to restrict what she does. Arabella can do almost anything a kid without disabilities can. That’s been a huge boost to her confidence and physical abilities and it’s brought our family together.”