Special bike helping Kayla hit the road (ABC Mildura/ Gales)

It’s a scene that’s played out in driveways and backyards the world over: a small child learning to ride their first ever bike. But, for Kayla McLean, getting her first bike is a particularly special moment, and one that her family never thought would happen.

Kayla on her new bike. (ABC Local : Sophie Malcolm )


Kayla takes her bike for a ride for the first time. (ABC Local : Sophie Malcolm )
Kayla on her new bike. (ABC Local : Sophie Malcolm )

Gently, she’s lifted out of her wheelchair and onto the seat, where a series of straps and harnesses are fastened around her tiny body.

Six-year-old Kayla is apprehensive at first, but soon her face cracks into a huge smile, laughing and giggling.

Kayla lives in Buronga, just over the bridge from Mildura in south west New South Wales.

She has no speech, is unable to walk and her mobility is otherwise restricted.

Her mum, Holly Harvey, says doctors still aren’t sure why, but they believe Kayla has a rare and difficult to identify genetic disorder.

“The first time she rode a bike, when they did the assessment, it was emotional,” she says.

“It was pretty amazing.

“I think it was the realisation that it’s something so simple that you take for granted like getting your kid a bike, and thinking that was something that Kayla would probably never do, that was huge.”

The bikes aren’t cheap, with modifications sometimes running over $1000.

Kayla’s bike was purchased after staff members at MADEC, a local employment and training agency, banded together to fundraise for it.

It has a special harness to keep her safely strapped in, training wheels and a handle for Holly to help push the bike along.

Learning to ride her new bike is something that will help Kayla in a number of different ways.

Liz Irwin is an occupational therapist who works at Solve Disability Solutions, a not-for-profit organisation that modifies equipment for people with disabilities. They made Kayla’s bike for her.

She says the benefits of getting kids onto bikes are wide-ranging.

“It certainly strengthens them physically, so children who may not have been able to have much strength in their legs, it gives them strength in their legs and also their trunk, having to sit up,” Liz says.

“[It helps with] concentration, needing to steer and brake.

“And it’s just what kids do; being able to get out on the street with other kids it improves their confidence and their sense of belonging.”

Liz says the childhood rite of passage of learning to ride a bike is something that kids with disabilities shouldn’t miss out on.

“We all know kids love to ride bikes, it’s a very normal thing for kids to do,” she says.

“I think its family inclusion, being able to ride with a brother or sister, or the whole family.”

That’s something Holly is looking forward to.

“Kayla’s a twin…normally her twin Marissa misses a lot because it’s hard to let one go off on a bike and also sit with a wheelchair, so now they’ll both be able to do it together,” she says.

“[We’re just going to do] family stuff, like going down to the park.”

Nota retomada de http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2015/09/04/4306264.htm



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