Freedom Wheels is a wonderful program where TADSA volunteers modify standard bikes with a range of prefabricated accessories so that children with disabilities can do something that most of us take for granted – ride a bike. Freedom Wheels’ volunteer Des Chabrel tells Sammi’s Freedom Wheels’ story.
“For those who do not have children or grandchildren in their social universe, Dora is a fictional character to rival Barbie and Peppa Pig. In this case Dora’s full time carer is Samara (Sammi).
I first met Sammi when she came to a clinic at Novita for staff to assess her ability to cope with a two or three wheeled cycle. Sammi has a prosthesis to help her overcome an under- developed right leg and while she copes well with walking her parents were keen to see how she could cope with the action of cycling.
At one of TADSA’s bike clinics, we tried her on the smallest bike and trike but both were too big for her so I offered to make some modifications to a small two wheeler I had at home. The idea was to fit some small but robust stabiliser wheels, remove the right pedal and fit a leg rest to the right side. I made these changes and Sammi was able to ride almost un-aided straight away by tucking her left foot under a strap on the pedal so that she could push the pedal down and pull it up as well.
When Sammi’s NDIS funding came through the volunteers at TADSA then sourced a new bike, and made the necessary modifications so that Sammi could ride independently and take her friend Dora for rides. That was 2015.
Sammi has moved on from her fascination with Dora the Explorer and was fully into the whole Halloween experience when I visited her recently. Earlier this year her family contacted Novita and TADSA to say Sammi had out-grown her 12 inch bike and could we assess her for a new one. She certainly had made good use of her bike. Close inspection showed the rear tyre had been worn almost completely through!
The assessment was done and after a delay while Sammi recovered from an operation, her new bike was delivered at the end of October. She now rides a 16 inch bike with fixed wheel and out-riggers. The right side pedal and crank have been removed and replaced with a purpose built cradle to support her prosthetic leg. A special foot plate has been attached to the left pedal to enable her to push down and pull up with her left leg. Her bike is indeed an extension of her out-going personality.”
Sammi is pictured with her new bike above and with her old bike below.