Cerebral Palsy Kids and Families (CPKF) held its first Adapted Bike Clinic in 1999. It became the flagship program for the agency and allowed CPKF to build community awareness, grow membership and cultivate partnerships with businesses and other non-profit agencies throughout Calgary. Cerebral Palsy Kids & Families has provided more than 1100 children the opportunity to experience the joy of riding a bike.
Children with cerebral palsy often experience compromised gross and fine motor skills, due to brain damage. Riding a typical bike is simply not possible.
However, with customized adaptations such as special seats, side stabilizing wheels, raised foot plates, specialized handlebars, and other features, these children are able to propel, steer and control a bike.
At annual Adapted Bike Clinics, children with neuromotor disabilities trial modified bicycles with qualified staff. Each bike will ultimately be custom adapted to the child’s specific needs. These adapted bicycles and tricycles can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000 per bike, depending on adaptations and physical needs of the child. The high costs of modified bikes are prohibitive making them unattainable for the average family caring for a special needs child and there is no government funding for recreation equipment like bicycles.
In 2018, Cerebral Palsy Kids & Families was able to offer adapted bikes to 175 children ages of 3 – 17 years, affected by cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities. The full program costs approximately $90,000 annually to support the number of applicants registering for the Adaptive Bike Program.
The success of the Adaptive Bike Program is evident in the smiles of these children who are able to take part in neighborhood bike events, family outings and simply riding with friends in the community. The positive effects of bike riding are far reaching; building confidence, facilitating stretching, strengthening, muscle building, increasing balance, promoting family wellness, and most importantly, simply allowing children to have fun!
The reputation and credibility of the Adapted Bike Program has gained city-wide recognition. The community has noticed that with specialized equipment, severely disabled children can know the joy and benefits of riding a bicycle, thanks to the CPKF Adaptive Bike Program. This important program opens conversations, facilitates inclusion and promotes overall health wellness.
Carol Mertens - Adapted Bike Coordinator
Sheralee Stelter - Bike Fitter
Kathy McKinnon - Administrative Coordinator
Kelly Paul - Edison Cycle