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Lake walk will help put wheels in motion

Date

Megan Doherty

8-year-old Isabella Stokes  and her neighbour, Jack Williams, both suffer from cerebral palsy and have had bikes modified so they can  ride.

8-year-old Isabella Stokes and her neighbour, Jack Williams, both suffer from cerebral palsy and have had bikes modified so they can ride. Photo: Colleen Petch

There is nothing like the joy on Bella Stokes' face when she rides her bike.

The eight-year-old from Chifley has cerebral palsy and is usually confined to a wheelchair.

But for just over a year, she has enjoyed the freedom of moving her legs and riding a bike.

''She loves it. It's so good. She can be independent,'' her mother, Katie, said.

Bella's wheels and sense of freedom are thanks to the work of a small not-for-profit charitable organisation which has been quietly working away since 1979 to improve the lives of people with disability, the elderly and those who care for them.

Technical Aid to the Disabled ACT designs, modifies and constructs equipment which assists the disabled and the elderly.

It has provided more than 6000 pieces such as adjustable-height tables and chairs for children, frames to hold children upright, modified pots and pans, chair-raisers for the elderly and even trigger-operated one-arm snooker cues.

Its Freedom Wheels project customises standard pushbikes following an assessment of the child by a physiotherapist.

Bella's bike has modified heavy-duty stabiliser wheels, postural supports, belts, ankle-leg supports, towbars and modified handlebars.

Her neighbour, Jack Williams, 10, also has a modified bike. They both live in wheelchair-accessible units.

''It's something he can participate in, something he can join in with,'' said his mother, Donna.

TADACT office manager Daniel Barrow said each bike cost $750 to modify and more funds were needed to continue the work.

The organisation is holding a big fund-raiser on Saturday, December 1, before International Day of People with a Disability on December 3. The 5 kilometre walk around the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin will allow participants to help raise funds for the Freedom Wheels project.

The walk is from 8am to 9am starting and finishing at Rond Terrace. Registration starts from 7am. Gold medal-winning Paralympian Susan Powell will ride around Rond Terrace with children on Freedom Wheels bikes at 7.30am. The theme is yellow with prizes for the best fancy-dressed.

Entry fees are $25 for adults and $18 for 11 to 17-year-olds. Register online at technicalaidact.org.au/events/events-registration.html.

Nican, which supports recreational activities for the disabled, supported by the ACT government, has provided TADACT with an International Day of People with a Disability grant that covers the expenses of Walk a Loop. That meant any money raised on the day would go direct to Freedom Wheels.

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