California State University, Long Beach
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PT Student Club Gives 14 Tricycles

Published: February 6, 2017


CSULB’s Physical Therapy (PT) Student Club hosted a giveaway of 14 adaptive tricycles to area children with special needs on Jan. 28 in the campus’ East Gym.

The club hosted SoCalTrykers, the Long Beach chapter of the AMBUCS (American Business Clubs) national service organization. The bike giveaway was financially made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the Trial Lawyers Association.

“Our students have been invested in connecting with the community through service within their field of practice and have chosen to support SoCalTrykers,” said Physical Therapy lecturer and CSULB graduate Noel Marie Spina. “They have assisted with assembling adaptive tricycles, assessing adaptive mobility needs of children who are physically challenged and helping to get these bikes into the hands of children and families in our local community who could benefit from them and yet otherwise not afford them.”

SoCalTrykers was founded in 2013 with the mission to provide children and adults with disabilities the opportunity to participate in cycling, an activity that promotes independence and mobility. SoCalTrykers does so by assisting individuals in obtaining adaptive tricycles, through fundraising and volunteer efforts.

The adaptive tricycles given away come in a variety of styles.

“This bike is the equivalent of a reliable first car,” said Spina. “It is an affordable, entry-level adaptive tricycle that can fit anyone.”

The goal is to identify an adaptive tricycle that will last for years regardless of a recipient’s growth and ability. Different seating and support systems are adaptable to various bike frames, which can grow with the user. For children who have difficulty walking or standing, the bike can be adapted to fit their needs.

Purchasing these bikes online may cost up to thousands of dollars, but costs are reduced by approximately 40 percent and needs can be met in a more timely fashion when families are linked with SoCalTrykers. The financial support of organizations like the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the Trial Lawyers Foundation and grass roots fundraising allows SoCalTrykers to continue its efforts.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The Newton family has first-hand experience with SoCalTrykers and the PT Student Club.

“At three weeks of age, oxygen was cut off to Cooper’s brain, his mother Kathy explained to me, and they don’t know why or what happened,” said Spina. Through combined efforts, Cooper was given a bike, which he now rides regularly with his mother on the CSULB campus.

“For a child who wasn’t supposed to make it through the night, what Cooper is able to do with a wheelchair and a walker and a bike is sometimes just too much for us,” said Newton. “As long as we can keep challenging him with new things like his bike and teaching people about differences, Cooper will have a fabulous life. Sometimes you just have to have hope.”

Two years ago, leadership within the PT Student Club approached faculty, looking for a way for the club to connect with the local community. Spina saw students could use their experience with the adaptive tricycles to learn the hard and soft skills inherent to the profession of physical therapy.

“Our students become directly involved with the logistics of each event, including the assembly and assessment process of adaptive equipment for children on the SoCalTrykers’ wish list,” she said. “Students are getting an opportunity for hands-on experiences interfacing with children and families from the Long Beach community. They are able to gain experience matching what they learn in the classroom with what they will be doing as clinicians.”

The experience builds a larger community of support by linking students, clinicians, families, children, donors and volunteers. This is often the first time a child has been able to ride a bike and have one of their own.

“The ability to move independently is a powerful force. It impacts development, allows for participation and improves one’s quality of life,” said Spina. “Physical therapy is a health profession of service. Our vision statement says physical therapists seek to transform society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.”

Students took that to heart, wanting to know what the PT Club could do, as emerging clinicians, to impact their community by promoting movement-based experiences.

“They have provided education on stretching to the Filipino Migrant Center Walking Club, supported post-race athlete management at the Long Beach Marathon and screened athletes at the Special Olympic Summer Games. Supporting SoCalTrykers continues to resonate with them,” offered Spina.

Spina hopes her students learn the importance of being able to actively participate in a meaningful way in life, regardless of one’s challenges; that health-related, quality-of-life matters.

“My hope is that they learn from the children, families and community how to use the developing skills they have to mutually empower individuals to live life to its fullest potential,” she said, “to see beyond disabilities and into possibilities.”