For the first time, 14-year-old North Vancouver resident Eleeka Darvish has been given the opportunity to ride a bike. Her adapted tricycle, valued at $4,500, was funded through last year’s Life Without Limits Gala. The customized bike allows Eleeka the freedom to experience outdoor recreation while getting exercise at the same time.
A specialized bike like Eleeka’s is not funded by the government, as such an item is considered “non-essential”. Adapted bikes also cannot be passed from one child to another when they grow out of it. Each bike must be separately fitted and customized with the help of an occupational therapist – making this type of recreation inaccessible to many, without special funding such as that provided by CPABC.
Sherilyn Gasior, Eleeka’s physiotherapist at the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, says, “The bike is specially adapted for Eleeka as it supports her trunk so she is able to pedal independently.” Hassain Darvish, Eleeka’s father, says the tricycle provides stability for her body and back as the seat is high and keeps her secure when pedaling, while a metal bar at the back helps control the direction of where the bike is going.
Eleeka’s mom believes that the tricycle helps Eleeka’s confidence as she’s able to it ride outside at recess in the summer time. School staff expressed how happy Eleeka was to participate in Bike to School Week with her peers. Her enjoyment is clear through the big smile she wears while riding her bike.
As well as a sense of enjoyment, the bike provides exercise and muscle development for Eleeka. “Adolescents go through big growth spurts and bones tend to grown faster than muscles,” says Sherilyn. “She doesn’t have the opportunity to stretch them and go through their full range of motion since they don’t keep up with the growth of the bones.”
Sherilyn says the bike is therapeutic because her muscles are being worked actively, rather than passively being assisted to do an activity. “This way she’s actively doing the therapy herself, instead of us just pushing her through the motions or making her go through the motions with stretching.”
“Having organizations like the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC to fund this is very beneficial for us. We rely on charities to fund these types of equipment because there is a huge benefit to the families and children, and they’re not funded by the government.”
– Sherilyn Gasior, Occupational Therapist
“I want to thank the Cerebral Palsy Association a lot because they gave her this chance and this opportunity to have this adapted bike and to have movement”, says Eleeka’s mom.
Eleeka’s smile, meanwhile, says it all.