19 June 2020

Emelia gets her own wheels for freedom

| My Gungahlin
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Emelia’s mother Nikki is shrieking with anxiety and delight as the little girl races away down the Gunghalin footpath on her new bike. Emelia tugs on the brake, halts, turns and smiles. It is the smile of a six year old girl who is not allowed to jump on a trampoline or climb a tree, but can be like many other children her age and ride a bike.

However, despite appearances, this is no ordinary bike. Emelia has a condition called Octogenesis Imperfecta, known more commonly as brittle bone disease. Emelia can easily end up with compression injuries from simply running around and once sustained two fractured vertebrae when she slipped backwards from a small table at childcare. Emelia is limited to low-impact exercise such as swimming and cycling, but needs a bike that provides much greater stability and support than standard commercial models to help prevent against falls.

Enter TADACT, otherwise known as Technical Aid to the Disabled ACT, with their team of engineers who put together Freedom on Wheels Cycles using a range of specialised components such as rear steer capability, robust stabilising wheels that can go off road, extra wide seats, pedal modifications and hip, thoracic and upper back supports.

Graham Waite, Executive Director at TADACT, describes the bikes as ‘suitable for children aged three and up with developmental delay, low muscle tone, cerebral palsy, down syndrome and autism as well as a range of other difficulties and disabilities. With our Freedom on Wheels Cycles these children are given the chance to experience something most of us take for granted – the joy of riding a bicycle’.

Nikki is thrilled with Emelia’s bike saying in addition to providing much needed exercise and therapy to combat her posture and knee issues, the Freedom on Wheels Cycle has provided Emelia with ‘confidence and a new lease on life’ and it ‘gives her the freedom to be a normal kid’.

When asked what she likes most about her new bike, Emelia herself giggles and says ‘it’s pretty!’.

TADACT is a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in creating, modifying and refurbishing assistive equipment to enable independence and enhance quality of life for children with developmental delay, children and adults with a disability and for older people in Canberra and the surrounding region. To find out more visit www.tadact.org.au or call (02) 6287 4290.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are soley those of the original author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of My Gungahlin.

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