I’m fairly certain that the first tricycle/bicycle makes the Top 10 list for childhood rites of passage–right up there with First Day of Preschool and First Time to Pee On the Side of the Road (wait…maybe that’s just the list for MY kids…). For a child with special needs, that list can look a whole lot different (First Time to Breathe Without Assistance, First Holiday Out of the Hospital…), but why should special needs children not get to enjoy some of those same firsts? Why shouldn’t they get to experience the exhilaration of the first bike ride, too?
This month, t-shirt company Live.Breathe.Grow is launching its LBG Gives campaign. Each month, 33% of the sales from a specific shirt design will go toward giving happiness to someone in need, and this month the goal is to help a special little girl ride HAPPY and FREE. Read on for Afton’s story.
Afton Allen is a sweet little girl who just turned two. She’s sassy, clever and she knows what she likes. Afton has also likely fought harder in the past two years than many of us have in our whole lives. You see, Afton was born at 25 weeks and spent the first 15 months of her life in hospitals. She has overcome so very many obstacles already and likely has many to come.
Watching Afton grow has been bittersweet. She was due to be born about a month after Thing 2, so while we celebrate her milestones and hard-won triumphs, we’re also somewhat saddened because she and Thing 2 should be enjoying many of the same things in life. Though they may never walk hand in hand down the sidewalk, why shouldn’t they be able to stroll side by side in their first trikes?
Afton’s parents, Ryen and Dana, have many of the same dreams for their child as any parent, and they have, in my opinion, handled challenges and setbacks with beautiful grace. I’m often shamed by my own tendency to get caught up in trivial frustrations when I look at how the Allen family has coped with considerably more. So, when the opportunity arose to help get Afton an adaptive tricycle, I jumped.
You see, while most of us can run to the store and get a reasonably priced tricycle for our toddlers, Ryen and Dana are looking at upwards of $1500 to special order an adaptive tricycle that will work for Afton. That’s a lot of money, but Afton is totally worth that (and so much more). For those of you who aren’t familiar with adaptive tricycles (and I wasn’t, until we saw that Ryen and Dana were trying to get one for Afton), the benefits of an adaptive tricycle go so far beyond the happy childhood memories of riding (though that’s a big one!). There are therapeutic benefits as well, including:
- Lower extremity strengthening
- Reciprocal leg motion patterning
- Balancing skills
- Using visual, spatial perception for steering
- Social interaction with peers and neighbors
You can find out more about adaptive tricycles here.
This month, when you purchase a BE HAPPY & FREE Live.Breathe.Grow shirt (featuring Ganesh, overcomer of obstacles), you are not only getting a comfortable and trendy shirt, you’re also investing in childhood happiness. And what better investment is there, really?