The gift of freedom: How a specialist trike allowed a young boy and his brother the liberty to cycle the streets freely after a family 'bike ban'
- Keelan has a condition leaving his muscles weak, forcing him into a wheelchair
- Sad and frustrated, he'd burst into tears seeing his brother ride freely on a bike
- Their parents then banned their oldest from cycling, causing more family upset
- But organisation Whizz-Kids were able to provide Keelan with a trike suiting his needs, allowing him to cycle freely too
Suffering from congenital myopathy, Keelan's dream was to simply ride a bicycle
For many young disabled children, the freedom of independent movement is something often restricted for a number of reasons.
Families are rarely being given mobility equipment which fit their child’s unique needs by the NHS – and the average waiting time for a powered wheelchair, rather than a manual, has now reached at least two years or more.
As a carrier of the condition congenital myopathy, little Keelan from Manchester lacks the strength to walk. The muscle disorder means that Keelan’s body is very weak and tired, and he often uses a wheelchair to get from place to place.
Although usually upbeat and positive, one thing that really began to upset Keelan about his lack of independence was watching his 9-year-old older brother, Conall, enjoying the freedom of riding his bike outdoors.
Often bursting into tears at the sight of this, their parents reluctantly decided to stop Conall from riding his bike – as it was far too upsetting for their youngest.
"We had to ban our other son from riding his bike so that it was fairer on his little brother."
- Vonda, Keelan's mother
‘It's heart-breaking as a parent to not only see your child cry at thought of not being able to join in with his friends and brother to ride a bike, but we then had to ban our other son from riding his bike so that it was fairer on his little brother,’ said Keelan’s mum Vonda, speaking to Whizz Kids online.
‘We tried to tell Conall that this would be a temporary measure, but that is hard to explain to a 9-year-old.’
‘But Keelan’s school highlighted that he had identified being able to ride a bike as something that important to him, and something he was not able to do,’ explains Vonda. ‘Therefore, we knew we had to do something.’
The boy’s parents were left in a conundrum, not knowing a solution. Both boys were now frustrated, and through no fault of their own. It was around this time that a local nurse suggested to the family that they apply for a grant from Whizz-Kids.
Thankfully, just one assessment from a Whizz-Kids therapist later, the correct specialist equipment was identified for Keelan’s exact needs.
The gift of the specialist trike allowed both Keelan and his brother to take to the streets on their wheels
"It’s just such a relief as a parent to see him keeping up with all the other kids."
- Vonda, Keelan's mother
Just a few weeks later, Keelan was given a piece of equipment that was about to change his experience of childhood forever. Like he had long dreamed of, he was now able to enjoy the independence of freely cycling the streets outside their family home.
‘Keelan was delighted when he received his new trike from Whizz-Kidz,’ says Vonda. ‘We had a few of his friends over and he was so proud to show everyone how he could ride his trike. It was also lovely to see our two sons finally being able to ride their bikes together.’
Stories like Keelan’s show how a simple piece of equipment can be totally transformative to the life of a young child. His new trike has provided him with a safe and fun way to exercise, as well as improving his emotional health and confidence.
Vonda is endlessly grateful for the help of Whizz-Kids and the difference they have made to the family’s life. 'He will always be a bit slower than them, but this new equipment at least helps Keelan to join in with his peers.
‘It’s just such a relief as a parent to see him keeping up with all the other kids.'