Learning to ride a bike is a milestone in many children’s lives. It is a moment of independence, excitement and trepidation, yet for a student with a disability, this moment may never come.
Beginning in Nov. 2012, Variety children’s charity began the My Bike program. The purpose was to provide adaptive bicycles to children with disabilities, thus giving them an opportunity they might not otherwise have.
In 2019, Variety partnered with BLaST Intermediate Unit 17 to provide 10 adaptive bicycles to students in Lycoming County and the Northern Tier.
It was the perfect summer day for a bike ride when the students and their families gathered at Montoursville Area High School on Aug. 5 to receive their bikes. Under bright sunshine, the students were cheered on by their families and supporters. As they embarked on that initial ride, smiles beamed as bright as the sun, highlighting the joy each student felt.
Five schools from the northern tier benefited from the bike program including, Canton, Sayre, Southern Tioga, Towanda and Wyalusing school districts.
Krista Peterson, director of special education for Southern Tioga School District said, “I think its a pretty joyous occasion. There is a lot of happiness there, to see a child riding a bike for the first time because they are able to. This was our first experience with the My Bike program, and we hope to use it many more times for other students in need. Our special education program strives to provide access for students where they might not otherwise have had it.”
The adaptive bikes are manufactured through Rifton. Before a student receives a bike, a therapist determines the individual specifications necessary for that student’s needs.
Once the specifications have been determined, Variety then delivers the bike to the family and shows them how to assemble and disassemble it for easy transportation.
Variety’s My Bike program is open to any child who has a diagnosed physical, mental and/or sensory disability documented by the child’s current licensed physical or occupational therapist, personal care physician, physician assistant or certified nurse practitioner. More information can be found online at Variety’s website www.varietypittsburgh.org/applynow.