New Brunswick

Fredericton program gives adaptive bikes to people with motor disabilities

A program offered at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton fully funds modified bikes for people with neuromotor disabilities.

A modified bicycle can cost more than $6,000

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)

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.

Annie McCloskey with her daughter Claire out for a bike ride along the trails in Fredericton. (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.

Fredericton Bikes 'n' Trikes program gives adaptive bikes to kids with motor disabilities.

4 months ago
1:38
The Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation pays for adaptive bikes for kids with motor disabilities — which can save a family thousands of dollars. 1:38

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. 

Some of the adaptive bikes at the Stan Cassidy Centre. They can cost as much as $6,700. (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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.

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