Students Set the Wheels of Independence in Motion for Local Resident

AmTrykes (like the one pictured above) are hand and/or foot operated and designed for riders of all ages.

AmTrykes (like the one pictured above) are hand and/or foot operated and designed for riders of all ages.

This year’s National AMBUCS Inc. luncheon, originally scheduled for Feb. 25 in Lubbock, may have been cancelled because of bad weather, but the snow didn’t dampen a positive outcome for one lucky Olton resident.

The TTUHSC Student Occupational Therapy Association Chapter recently raised $475 to purchase an AmTryke therapeutic tricycle for 22-year-old Sarah Sharp. Sharp celebrated with students and AMBUCS at the luncheon, which was rescheduled for April 1 at the McInturff Conference Center.

“We decided to integrate AMBUCS AmTryke donations as part of our annual tradition mainly because of all the rehab student volunteer opportunities and scholarships that AMBUCS has provided to us through our student organization throughout the years,” said Alexa L. Pelczynski, Student Occupational Therapy Association president and a student in the 
Master of Occupational Therapy Program. “As occupational therapy students we strive to contribute as much as we can to our community.”

AmTrykes are unique tricycles that can be hand and/or foot operated. They are designed to accommodate riders of all ages, sizes, and varying degrees of physical limitations so that they might realize the experience of riding a bicycle, according to the AMBUCS website.

Sharp began having developmental delays when she turned 1 year old. Her physicians first believed she had cerebral palsy, but with the help of the Shriner's Hospitals for Children, Sharp was eventually diagnosed with Pyruvite Metabolism Disorder, a condition that can cause spasticity and mental retardation.

Pelczynski said Sharp was chosen as this year’s AmTryke recipient by local AMBUCS chapter committee member Leslye Molamphy after Sharp’s physical therapist, Charlie Berry, mentioned Sharp’s desire to exercise and stay in shape.

“The AmTryke provides a rite of passage for individuals,” Pelczynski said. “Each AmTryke is specifically modified and personalized for the recipient. It is not only a great way to establish an exercise regime, but also gives the recipient a sense of independence, self-esteem and motivation to participate with peers and family. From an interdisciplinary standpoint, providing resources for clients to participate in life to its fullest is the overarching goal of health care providers.”

To date, more than 15,000 AmTrykes have been distributed around the world, according to the AMBUCS website. The majority of these trykes are purchased by volunteer members of the AMBUCS organization and donated free of charge to underprivileged young people.

“I received several emails from Student Occupational Therapy Association members saying that they were happy to have participated in the bake sale that raised the funds for Sarah's bike,” Pelczynski said. “It is a positive experience as a collective organization and I hope to see maybe two bikes donated next year.”

In addition, Pelczynski said the Student Occupational Therapy Association looks forward to collaborating with other student organizations to provide future opportunities for Lubbock-area residents with disabilities.

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