School is out for the day for 5-year-old Kira Trosclair, and all she can think about is heading home to her bike and playtime with friends. Like any child, Kira loves to ride and play with her friends. But until recently, she was only able to watch the other children have fun. Her physical disability prevented her from participating in playtime and many other children’s activities.
Kira has multiple duplications of chromosome 22r11, a disability that affects her motor skills. “Kira was almost 2 years old before she started crawling or sitting up,” said Sandy Trosclair, Kira’s mother. Sandy took her daughter to a physical therapist to help strengthen her muscles and improve mobility. Wanting to enhance Kira’s ability to play, AMBUCS, a national disability program that helps improve the lives of disabled people, stepped in. The organization’s local Edmond chapter, AmTrykes, furnishes custom-built bikes for people with disabilities.
AmTrykes started when a physical therapist designed a bike for her own child, and has since grown into a national success. Tom Hatcher, Edmond’s AmTrykes chairman, said every bike is custom-built. “There are an infinite number of accessories designed for each child,” Hatcher said. “We look for the area where they need more help and design the bike to help improve strength and mobility.”
AMBUCS designed Kira’s bike with hand-pedals. Her feet strap into the pedals at the bottom like other bikes, but she uses her hands to turn the pedals. The bike also has helped Kira improve other facets of her condition. “Even though she is pedaling the bike with her hands, her legs move below and she is getting exercise,” Kira’s mother said. “It really strengthens her legs.”
The bike also has helped Kira come out of her shell and become more sociable with others. “She’s very friendly and wants to play with the other children,” Sandy said. The new toy has also helped strengthen her relationship with her sibling. “Kira is also able to ride a bike with her brother now. She wasn’t able to ride bikes with him before,” Sandy said. “Now she thinks she’s all that because she can ride too.” The next step for Kira is transitioning from the AmTryke to a standard bike. “This is the ultimate goal. And I believe she will be able to do it,” Sandy said. “Kira has made so much improvement. The AmTryke made that possible.”
Children like Kira aren’t the only ones who receive help from the program. Hatcher said AmTrykes also provides bikes to wounded veterans returning from the war. “We have veterans who are double amputees, or they are paralyzed from the waist down,” Hatcher said. “We give them a bike so they can enjoy recreational activities with their families.”
AMBUCS also helps people who are not able to afford medical equipment. Sandy is a working mom, and like many people, is on a tight budget. “There is no way I could have afforded the bike for her otherwise,” Sandy said. “AMBUCS really stepped in and helped us.”
The program offers financial assistance to students as well by providing scholarships to students who want to work with disabled people. “The AMBUCS Scholars program represents the largest single private source of educational grants for therapists in America,” said June Cartwright, AMBUCS’ media coordinator.
“Several of our AMBUCS scholarship recipients choose to pursue their therapy degree because their own families contain children or adults who are in need of speech therapy,” she said. “They have compassion for their patient and the desire to develop a very positive course of treatment.”
For more information on AMBUCS, visit its national website at AMBUCS.org.