10-year-old Jack Simpson, who has Down Syndrome, is able to enjoy the feeling of riding a bike safely thanks to support from children’s charity Children Today Charitable Trust.
Jack, from Belfast – who his mum describes as “a caring wee boy” – has always loved being on a bike since infancy, but had outgrown the baby-seat his dad, Tony, was using to take him cycling.
Jack’s mum, Shauneen Simpson, says:
“Jack has always loved being out and about, he’s a very outdoorsy wee lad, so since he was a baby his dad has always taken him out on his bike using a baby seat. Jack’s quite small for his age and very light, so we’ve managed to carry on using it until now. But it wasn’t sustainable as it got to the point that it wasn’t safe anymore.
“We tried Jack on a regular bike with stabilisers but he couldn’t get to grips with it. He has low muscle tone so he couldn’t even pedal the bike. We really didn’t know what to do as Jack adores being out on the bike, so we were thrilled when he tried out an adapted Tomcat and took to it really well. But it was just too expensive for us to be able to get one for Jack.”
At a cost of more than £3,000, Jack’s family reached out to Children Today and some other charities for support. Children Today pledged more than half of the cost towards the trike giving Jack the opportunity to ride again.
“I can honestly say this trike has been truly life-changing for Jack. He’s always loved being out on Tony’s bike but he can actually pedal this trike himself so it gives him even more independence.
“Jack’s non-verbal but uses some signs and picture cards to communicate. Pretty much the only things he signs for are food and the trike which I think says it all. He loves his food and he really loves his trike!
“It’s his absolute favourite thing to do. He’s out on it every day whatever the weather. Come rain or shine he wants to be on it, but if Jack’s happy we’re all happy! Tony’s had no choice but to become a keen cyclist, and his younger sister, Ellie, often joins them too. It’s been lovely for them to have something to bond over.”
The trike is specially engineered so that it can be adapted to grow with Jack and provides additional safety and comfort to suit Jack’s needs. It can also be attached to an adult bike, allowing him to go on longer bike rides and take a rest from pedalling if he gets tired.
“Jack is such an ‘adrenaline junkie’. He loves rollercoasters, water slides, anything that goes fast, so the fact that the trike can also be attached to Tony’s bike means he still gets the thrill of being able to go fast too. We’re just so grateful to Children Today and the other charities that helped us get this amazing trike for Jack.”
The trike is not only providing endless hours of fun for Jack but is also a great way to help him build up his muscle tone and get regular exercise.