Comstock's magazine 0818 - August 2018 - Page 87

M ost people vividly remember their first time riding a bicycle. The sense of pride and excitement, the feeling of the sun overhead or the breeze blowing by, and hearing the cheers of a parent or sibling during those first pedal strokes. But this mile- stone is often missing for children with disabilities. For them, the chance to ride a tricycle can provide that special moment — and it can be life-changing, enabling a sense of mobility and person- al freedom they may never have experi- enced before. Gillian Williams, founder and pres- ident of NorCal Trykers, witnessed this firsthand as a physical therapist at Shri- ners Hospitals for Children in Sacra- mento. The hospital purchased 20 adap- tive tricycles with a grant in 2016, each specially equipped to help children cope with various disabilities. One of Williams’ patients at the time was a 10-year-old girl with cerebral pal- sy, and the first time she tried an adap- tive tricycle, she walked up to it with braces on her feet and two crutches. Williams showed her how to rotate the pedals. “In a matter of minutes, I was running at her side and she was laugh- ing and giggling,” Williams says. Physical therapists have been using adaptive tricycles for years, according to Williams, and parents often want to know where they can buy the tricycles for their children. But at a price of at least $1,000 per tricycle, purchasing one is usually cost-prohibitive. Inspired to help parents and bring more smiles to more children, Williams founded NorCal Trykers in 2017. The organization is dedicated to building and donating adaptive tricycles to local children with disabilities in the regional school system. NorCal Trykers is the first Northern California chapter of AMBUCS, former- ly known as American Business Clubs, which provides therapeutic tricycles to people who cannot operate traditional bikes. Through AMBUCS, Williams can choose from a catalogue of tricycles with different accessories and adaptations to “Any child can become successful, regardless of their disability.” — Gillian Williams, founder and president, NorCal Trykers build for children here in the Sacramen- to region. “Any child can become successful, regardless of their disability,” Williams says. To date, NorCal Trykers has donat- ed 42 tricycles to local families. A com- bination of fundraising and volunteers makes it possible to purchase and build the adaptive tricycles. “In our first year, we had three big building sessions where we built 10 tri- cycles at one time on a Saturday after- noon with a group of volunteers,” Wil- liams says. Until recently, Williams says it was a challenge to recruit volunteers and to find places to store the tricycles, but a NorCal Trykers board member helped establish a local partnership with the Yolo County Office of Education to sup- port this need. Now, through YCOE’s Hecho a Mano after-school program, high school students assemble tricycles under the supervision of credentialed instructors. Lori Perez, director of college and career readiness at YCOE, says the dis- trict was thrilled to partner with Nor- Cal Trykers, and that the experience helps students develop