CLARION - It was a very special day for 12 children in the area.
Variety, the Children's Charity, on Friday provided six adaptive bikes, four adaptive strollers and two communication devices at Riverview Intermediate Unit 6.
Pittsburgh-based Variety provides children with disabilities with unique programs, experiences and equipment throughout nearly 60 counties in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Variety strives to enable kids with disabilities to live life to the fullest with a focus on mobility, communication, social inclusion and interaction.
Variety board member Mickey Sgro said Variety does not call these children "special needs children. To us they are all special," he said. "We give them the tools to help them have fun and to make their parents proud. Today, their parents are proud of them. If you give them the tools, they can do anything."
Founded in 1927, Variety's mission has been that "no child should be left out, left behind or isolated, and through its programs and experiences, Variety strives to give children opportunities to discover the possibilities for their own lives, and be a kid, first and foremost."
Brooklyn Vath, a 7-year-old from Franklin, received an adaptive bicycle. Her mother, Shauna, said her physical therapist initially brought this to her attention.
"She loves to ride a bike but she has seizures and she gets tangled in her bike, and it is hard to get her off," the girl's mother said. "She will also be using this at school for therapy."
Vath said her daughter will ride the bike on the trail near her house.
"Variety is amazing," she said. "We wouldn't have this without them."
Mason Hawk, 14, received a new adaptive bike and adaptive stroller. His mother, Felicia Studer, said the equipment will impact her son and their entire family.
"As an active family, especially in the summer, we do a lot of camping," Studer told Variety. "Many of the campgrounds have paved roads for biking. Mason will benefit so well ... able to join everyone and feel part of the crowd as well."
Studer said the family also enjoys going to festivals and theme parks along with taking walks.
"The stroller will benefit us so much without the bulk of the wheelchair and the struggle of pushing it through large crowds," she said. "We try to involve Mason in everything we do as an active family, but sometimes we have to rearrange our plans because of equipment."
Zolton Proper, 4, received a new communication device - his "new voice." "I think the communication device is so important, so we can understand what Zolton is trying to say to us," his mother, Samantha Ohl, told Variety. "It is very beneficial to Zolton, so he can use it and feel better that people know what he is saying."
Sgro said Variety and RIU6 want to reach "every eligible child who could benefit from an adaptive bike, adaptive stroller or communication device."
Variety offers adaptive equipment through three programs:
- "My Voice," which provides communication devices (currently an iPad with a prescribed communication app) to eligible kids to give them a voice at all times.
- "My Bike," which currently provides Rifton adaptive bikes to eligible kids to give them freedom, joy and belonging created through a bike.
- "My Stroller," which currently provides Kid Kart Might Lite adaptive strollers to eligible kids to give them "on-the-go" mobility and easily participate in activities in the community.