“We felt the approach was just right.”
Joe has Down’s Syndrome, the most common chromosomal condition, with about 6000 babies born every year. He has always been energetic and, while his family have attempted a range of activity, including walking and cycling, there was no easy way to include Joe within it in a way that was fully accessible.
Joe initially started cycling on a balance bike, but struggled with pedalling and control. Despite always having lots of energy, he struggled to walk most distances, and was unable to master a scooter to accompany his three siblings. When they began cycling, he tried and gave up, becoming increasingly frustrated.
Joe needed a bike that:
- Would help support his pedalling
- Would help him learn how to control a bike safely
- Could be used on family trips
In an attempt to find an activity or piece of equipment that would work, Joe’s parents sought the advice of a local charity supporting disabled children. The charity recommended getting in touch with Tomcat, and the family booked an assessment. Down’s Syndrome is a fairly straightforward condition for Tomcat, with the physical implications usually limited to dealing with shorter stature and stockiness, as well as having to keep hip dislocation in mind.
After receiving his trike, Joe began to learn to ride it at a local athletics track, supported by inclusive cycling charity Wheels for All. Through this, Joe began to build up confidence and stamina in a safe environment, and after about eighteen months, the family was able to cycle in their local park without the Carer Control™ attached. The family’s confidence in Joe’s ability grew more and more with the passing months, and eventually the question was posed to the Tomcat technical team as to whether they could convert the existing trike from a fixed-wheel trike, removing back-pedal braking. The Tomcat team explained that Joe would need to be able to brake fully independently for that to happen, and so the family had their next goal.
Later that year, after Joe had mastered braking, the family used a larger balance bike alongside the trike to help Joe balance on two wheels. While it took time and patience, Joe is now able to ride a two-wheel bike independently, and the family then turned to building up his confidence through that, by letting him choose the routes, or taking gentle cycling trails. While there have been a few bumps in the road, Joe has always gotten back on the bike, ready for another go.
“The independence that cycling with his siblings will give Joe is just fabulous, and we definitely put it down to the support of our local charity and the design/training of the Tomcat trike.”
Joe and his family donated their trike to Tomcat’s Give & Take scheme, an initiative that allows us to service the returned trike and donate it to a school, charity, or hospital to benefit other children.