Freedom of movement and the ability to easily communicate – two necessities of life that are easy to take for granted. But for a child with disabilities – the right equipment can be the difference between integration and isolation. Variety – the Children’s Charity, based out of Pittsburgh, has addressed this head-on, with three programs aimed at giving children with disabilities the freedom of mobility, and a voice.
Variety’s “My Bike” Program provides individually customized adaptive bikes for children who are not able to ride a typical two-wheeled bike, due to physical limitations, challenges with balance or steering, or who simply do not feel safe riding without assistance.
Their “My Stroller” program offers “on-the-go” mobility through adaptive strollers, each of which is individually customized for the child receiving it. The strollers are lightweight, and can easily fold-up and fit into a standard trunk. These strollers deliver increased safety for the child (especially in crowds), allow for easier mobility, and have an immediate impact for kids who might previously have been ‘left behind’ in a heavy and cumbersome wheelchair.
Finally – Variety recognized that many children who could not communicate verbally had access to communication devices only at school…thus, effectively ‘taking away their voice’ when the school day ended. To assist with this, they created the “My Voice” program, which provides a communication device (i.e. an iPad with a prescribed app) to kids with communication disorders…enabling them to have ‘a voice’ at all times.
Since introducing these programs, Variety has distributed nearly 2,500 adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers and communication devices – representing close to $3.7 million worth of equipment – throughout the 54 counties in Pennsylvania and West Virginia that they serve. We think that’s amazing!
Do you know of a family in the Pittsburgh area who might benefit from this remarkable program? If so, please be sure to pass along this blog post…they can apply here.
And of course: as a not-for-profit organization, Variety welcomes and values any donation of time, expertise, and financial support!