AMBUCS creates adaptive bikes for children with special needs

When Cathy Williams and her daughter Kenzie, 13, entered the Thompson High School gym Thursday, May 6, Kenzie began clapping joyfully.

The reason Kenzie was clapping is because she was being fitted for her new adaptive bicycle, courtesy of the Greater Birmingham AMBUCS.

AMBUCS is non-profit organization with a local Birmingham area chapter aimed at creating mobility and independence for people with special needs.

Kenzie, a Columbiana Middle School student, and many other children with special needs came out Thursday to take their turn on their new set of wheels.

Cathy said she never thought Kenzie would ride a bike, but thanks to AMBUCS, she now has that opportunity.

“She sees other kids riding bikes, and this allows her to get to do things other kids do,” Cathy said. “Now, she’s going to get to ride her own bike.”

Cara Adams, a charter board member of the Greater Birmingham AMBUCS, said it is that reaction from children and parents alike that make the whole project worthwhile.

“The kids laugh, and some parents cry because they’ve been told their children could never do this,” said Adams. ‘You get a lot of happy smiles and happy faces in here.”

Since October 2007, AMBUCS has provided more than 300 bikes free of charge to special-needs children in the area.

The bikes, which range from $200-600, are fitted to each individual child and their needs, and then the kids are allowed to “take it for a spin” to see if any adjustments need to be made, Adams said.

Once children outgrow their current bike, the bicycles are often recycled and modified for another child to use.

In addition to bikes, AMBUCS has also built more than 60 wheelchair ramps in the last two years.

But whether it’s ramps or bicycles, Adams said it’s just great to see a special-needs child enjoying the same everyday experiences as their peers and classmates in school.

“Riding a bike is a rite of passage for a child, and it’s the same for these kids,” Adams said.

For more information about AMBUCS or to make a donation, call 834-8580 or visit BirminghamAMBUCS.com.