13-year-old Brooke, who lives in Norfolk with her mum and older brother, has a rare childhood disease called Ataxia-telangiectasia which limits her movement. The youngster uses a walking frame and an electric wheelchair to get around and is unable to stand up unsupported.
Despite her mobility issues, she lives an active lifestyle and takes part in horse riding, sit skiing and swimming. Brooke was desperate for a trike after growing out of her old one when she was seven-years-old.
The family was awarded a £1,000 grant from Children Today to go towards half the cost of the life-changing trike and the remaining amount was funded by another charity.
The Tomcat trike, which is specially adapted to fit Brooke, will enable her to not only enjoy more outdoor adventures but the movement required to peddle with her legs will help her physical rehabilitation assisting in easing her muscles from stiffening, a common trait of her condition. The trike is set her last her a number of years to come as it’s unlikely that she will grow out of it.
Brooke’s mum, Justine, who gives her fortnightly immunoglobulin injections to boost her daughter’s immune system, said: “Having the trike would just mean everything, especially for her mental health as it will do her wonders having the option to do another outdoor activity.
“It’s another form of independence for her because she can control herself to an extent. She must see other people on their bikes and think to herself – I wish I could have a bike and do that.
“She just wants to be able do as much as possible, just as much as what other people do and I don’t want to stop her from doing that. If there’s a way that it can be done then we’ll do that and that’s where the adapted trike comes in – it’ll give her mental health and mine a big boost.”
Justine was passed on a trike by a family member a few years ago, which she attempted to adapt to suit Brooke’s needs but it didn’t quite work out. The mum-of-two added: “She’s been on and on about a trike for years now because she loved the one that she had before.
“They’ve got bikes at her school but there’s nothing there that she can ride so I thought if I can get her one for home, we can go around the village or if it’s foldable we can put it in the car and take it out somewhere with us. It’ll give her a bit more variety and something else to do on a nice day in a different setting.
“Having the trike would mean at the weekends we can do something different. I’d be able to take her out around the parks near where we live, there’s loads of space where she could ride around on it. It would be a great form of exercise for her.”
Justine explained how exercising on the trike in the fresh air would help Brooke’s chest and her breathing. Her condition means she is prone to respiratory infections and certain types of cancer and she’s been taking regular antibiotic medicine ever since she was a toddler.
The adapted trike would enable Brooke, who has recently had her first Botox injections in both feet to release the tension in her muscles, to have fun out and about while spending quality time with her mum. Justine described how someone else has to be present when the pair go swimming, but the trike will enable them to go out independently.
Brooke’s social life would also be enhanced as she’d be able to join her friend, who lives around the corner, on bike rides together – helping her feel less isolated. Speaking before her first ride on her new trike, the 13-year-old said: “I am so excited and happy to be getting a new trike and I won’t be able to stop smiling!”