Christmas joy for young girl

BIKES will be at the top of many children's lists this festive season - but few will be more cherished than the one now belonging to a young disabled girl.

By Richard Cornwell

BIKES will be at the top of many children's lists this festive season - but few will be more cherished than the one now belonging to a young disabled girl.

Christmas came early for nine-year-old Amber Fayers, whose dream of owning a cycle came true thanks to kind-hearted darts players from Felixstowe.

Their fundraising during the season raised £460 to buy Amber the specially-adapted trike-bike that will mean she can go out riding with her younger brother and sister.

But the bike - presented to her by members of the Felixstowe Tuesday Darts League - will also help to improve her health and boost her confidence.

Linda Owens, group leader with the Felixstowe Mencap Saturday Morning Drop-in Club which Amber attends, said the cycle will have huge benefits for the youngster, who has suffered with cerebral palsy since birth.

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“It will mean she can achieve her dream of being able to ride a bike - because of the cost, the family could not afford the bike but now she has it thanks to the wonderful support of the darts players and is really thrilled,” said Mrs Owens.

“It will mean she can ride with able-bodied children - like her younger brother and sister - and give her a sense of independence.

“It will also help with her physio, her physical abilities, strengthening her wrists and strengthening her legs, helping with the use of her muscles.

“Overall, it will improve Amber's confidence - helping her to say, 'I can do this' as she cycles will help her to tackle and try other things in life, knowing she can succeed.”

The trike-bike is adapted to Amber's needs and has a special strap to keep her safely on the seat, bigger pedals to help her co-ordination, and is fully adjustable so it will last her a long time,

Amber, who lives with her mum and dad Fran and Jon on Cavendish Park, Felixstowe, attends Thomas Wolsey School, in Ipswich, and has been a regular at the Saturday drop-in for the past 18 months.

The group, funded by Felixstowe and District Mencap, has 17 children suffering from a range of conditions, including autism, hypertonia, Down's syndrome, Rett and Asperger's syndromes.

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FASTFACTS: Cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a physical impairment suffered by about one in 400 children. It affects movement - no two people afflicted are the same and movement problems vary from barely noticeable to extremely severe.

In some people muscles become very stiff and weak, and can affect their control of movement, others have some loss of control of their posture and tend to make unwanted movements, while others have problems with balance and speech.

Many people with cerebral palsy are hardly affected, others have problems walking, feeding, talking or using their hands. Some are unable to sit up without support and need constant enabling.

Some are of higher than average intelligence, others have moderate or severe learning difficulties. Most, like most able-bodied people, are of average intelligence.

Cerebral palsy is most commonly the result of failure of a part of the brain to develop, either before birth or in early childhood.

This is sometimes because of a blocked blood vessel, complications in labour, extreme prematurity or illness just after birth. Infections during pregnancy, or infancy and early childhood, can also cause the condition.

Source: Scope

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