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-Cheryl Freedman, Daniel’s mom
Daniel and I, along with a friend and her son, were seated behind a random bunch of Ambucs at a Pittsburgh Steelers game.
We were where we were supposed to be…
Daniel forgot his “Terrible Towel” and one of the nice Ambucs named Donna Carlton-Vish loaned him hers so he could rev up the crowd in our section.
So a conversation would start.
They were where they were supposed to be…
This conversation grew into who the Ambucs are and what they do. This led to a question from Donna, “Can Daniel ride a bike? Would he ride if he felt comfortable and secure?” I indicated that he never felt balanced enough as he has had over eleven surgeries and procedures on his right hip. We asked Daniel and he said wasn’t sure if he wanted to ride. Donna continued to talk to him about the special Amtryke that would be made just for him. She asked Aimee Carter if she would be willing to fit him. Amy said, “Of course I will!” Daniel was convinced and said he would try out the bike.
Aimee and Donna were where they were supposed to be…
A few days later, we went downtown and met up with the fine folks from AMBUCS. Aimee put Daniel on an Amtryke and, WOW – the smiles came immediately. He rode all around the room chasing his Dad, laughing loudly.
Dad was supposed to be there…
Wonderful things continued to happen. Suddenly we had a sponsor for the Amtryke, Danville AMBUCS. We discovered that it could be assembled and delivered on Saturday when everyone else was to receive their Amtrykes. A whole team of Ambucs, whose names we do not know, made all of this happen. We were able to pay this gift forward with a donation, allowing our benefactor to use that money to sponsor another rider.
Daniel received an Amtryke, and a new way to get around – who knew?!
All because we were where we were supposed to be….
Note: The Winter 2019 issue of AMBUCS Magazine ended up being extremely tight and this wonderful story lost all of its great pictures. They’re added here for you to enjoy.
Just to the right you will see the new National AMBUCS tagline and mission statement unanimously approved by the National AMBUCS Board of Directors at the National Conference in Reno, NV, under the leadership of Past National President, Kevin Sheehan.
Words matter. Sometimes we forget their power – for good or for ill. But if you’ve ever been a child on a playground, and I know you have, you know that power.
Our crisis of words is hardly a new one for an organization that serves those challenged with mobility and independence.
The AMBUCS Resource Center has a wall of bookcases full of memorabilia from our near-century of existence. A quick survey reveals frequent use of “handicapped” and “crippled.” We would never use either word today, but when the pieces were produced the words were perfectly acceptable.
Over the past few years, we began to get similar feedback from therapists, parents and other members of the community. The word “disabled” had started to become stigmatized…like every label before it.
The community has begun advocating for itself and one another as human beings, reframing descriptive words or rejecting labels altogether. This choice is highly personal, however, and a label that one person finds acceptable may be deeply offensive to someone else.
I think it is safe to say that every AMBUCS member has been touched down to their metaphorical toes by those we serve. While the word “special” has also become stigmatized, it is so true in its original context. The people we serve are all wildly different (like any group of humans), but it seems to me that conquering extreme daily challenges tends to create a type of person I admire very much. They are often determined, game, humble, kind and open.
The VERY last thing any of us would want to do is place a hurtful label on one of our friends.
The National Board and staff wondered if the word “create” was also a bit disempowering – making it seem like all the magic comes from our members and not from the determination of those who round the bases, travel ramps, power trykes or provide therapy.
So, what does National AMBUCS do with its proud mission to Create Mobility and Independence for People with Disabilities?
The AMBUCS National Board decided that no label should be placed on the population we serve and that we, as members, “inspire” more than “create.”
As previously mentioned, the National Board unanimously approved the new tagline: Inspiring Mobility & Independence.
The new easy-to-remember tagline comes with a more robust mission statement:
Inspiring people to conquer challenges related to mobility and independence, through a nationwide network of volunteer chapters, working in partnership with physical, occupational and speech therapists; by providing Amtryke adaptive trykes, scholarships for therapists and many forms of community service.
Neither change was an easy or quick decision. The National Board began actively discussing the matter in April, after they unanimously approved a similar change to the Amtryke tagline and logo suggested by the Amtryke Advisory Board in February. The new Amtryke tagline is “Adaptive Trykes for Amazing people!”
The announcement of the changes was made at the Thursday General Session at National Conference, before our keynote speaker, Shana Anderson, took the stage.
Shana spoke about her experience as mother to Reeve, who faces challenges related to Down syndrome, and about advocating for those with chromosomal disorders through a venture called Reeve’s Tees. She recounted her experience with two amazing AMBUCS chapters; one gave Reeve an Amtryke (Greenebucs) and one invited him to participate in a triathlon (Miamibucs). Shana’s piercingly open account of her experiences and her clearly genuine gratitude to our organization and others like us, captured every heart in the room.
Later, when discussing the new tagline and mission statement, Shana said, “Small language changes matter A LOT. The change that AMBUCS made to its mission statement (dropping the ‘people with disabilities’ and focusing on what is possible) was very symbolic to me. The point of AMBUCS is to give individuals the power to overcome challenges and NOT be a person with disabilities or limitations. When my son is on his tryke – for that moment, he is just one of the kids, he is not ‘a kid with disabilities.’ When I see the hearts, hands and hours that go into AMBUCS each day to make mobility and independence possible for so many, I’d say that you nailed it with this new tagline and mission statement!”
We hope other people we serve have a similar overwhelmingly positive response to the change. And that you, like Shana’s audience, feel like rising to your feet and giving her statement a standing ovation.
However, we understand that the new tagline and mission statement create some hurdles for our chapters and members.
- You will find updated AMBUCS and Amtryke logos here. You do not need to reproduce existing materials. We just ask that when it is time to replace them you use the new logos. We will be doing the same at the Resource Center.
- It may take some time to internalize that longer mission statement. You probably already have the tagline memorized so you can start using that immediately. To begin with, you could probably easily paraphrase the mission statement since it encapsulates the organization you know so well!
- Lastly, you are not alone if you are wondering how to talk about AMBUCS without using “disabilities” or another label to describe the population we serve. It will probably be a slow burn. We suggest you think in terms of challenges faced and overcome rather than labels, as I have tried to do in this document. “People who face challenges” or “…challenges related to…” Or simply let mobility and independence stand alone. Our ear is trained to listen for the “for” but I think you will find most people will understand intuitively that we inspire mobility and independence…for people who are challenged with those issues.
I hope you are as proud as I am of this new AMBUCS era. Maybe this change will serve as an example to other organizations and we will find in years to come that we were at the forefront of an important movement to remove labels and celebrate not only the human dignity but also the uncommonly amazing qualities of those we serve.
Today, my friend, is a GREAT DAY to be an Ambuc!
AMBUCS National President
If you need a hard copy, the Amtryke catalogues are available for the cost to ship. To order, contact Maria 800-838-1845 x116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See our full line up of Adaptive Tricycles for people from age 2 to 102! With our fleet of 15 trykes and hundreds of accessories – nearly everyone can be a successful rider. Our trykes can be powered by the feet, the hands or both feet and hands together – depending on the rider’s ability and therapeutic goals.
The Federation of State Board of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) developed ProCert as a comprehensive continuing competence activity certification program, as directed by the 53 U.S. physical therapy licensing boards. FSBPT uses the Standards for Continuing Competence Activities to evaluate the content of continuing competence activities for purposes of awarding CCU to physical therapists.
At the time of this writing, 34 states accept ProCert. Which means if a PT who lives in Delaware takes AEFT in Arizona, Delaware will recognize the CCU as valid. As long as your state is listed and you are a licensed physical therapist, the CCU are certified. FSBPT is actively working with states not already on their list and we hope one day soon that it will truly be a nationwide program.
If we hold AEFT in a state not covered by ProCert we will seek certification from that state’s PT Board and, of course, we will seek certification from the Occupational Therapy Board for the state where the training is held.
Please visit this page for more information about AEFT! We have already completed one course that has been retroactively approved and have another scheduled for January in Lexington, KY.
Thank you Ashley Schilling, PT – Music City Trykes President and Amtryke Therapist Training Coordinator – for taking on the immense amount work, research, follow up, coordination and general logistical heartburn this project has caused! ProCert Achieved. 🙂
Thanks, so much, to all our fabulous ProCert-certified AEFT Trainers too! Sue Haywood (PT), Ashley Schilling (PT), Aaron Stevens (OT), Kristina Bouley (OT), Marie MacLeod (PT), Christine Lysaght (PT), Denise Netteberg (PT), Emi Yukawa (PT), Aimee Carter (PT), Tami Forwood-Tubell (PT), Reva Reid (OT) and Joyce Peet (OT).
High Point, NC – September 7, 2018 – National AMBUCS is honored to partner with the Gold Wing Touring Association (GWTA), as the administration’s special emphasis, to provide Amtryke therapeutic tricycles for children and Veterans who are unable to safely ride a traditional bicycle.
GWTA is an international not-for-profit social organization owned and operated by its membership. Its motorcycle chapters provide ample opportunities for long and short rides, monthly meetings, state and regional events and the annual Gold Rush rally. GWTA encourages good riding habits, involvement in civic and charitable affairs and the projection of a positive motorcycling image to the general public.
Judith Schaefer, executive director of Gold Wing Touring Association, Inc. said, “It gives me great joy to announce AMBUCS as this administration’s special emphasis. I was introduced to AMBUCS by our Illinois Chapter H and fell in love with the organization and its goals. What a great fit to pair our bikes and trikes with the AMBUCS trykes, a worthwhile charity the GWTA members and chapters can support wholeheartedly.”
The two organizations both have chapters based all over the United States. Gold Wing Touring Assn. invites AMBUCS chapter members to find their nearest Gold Wing Touring Chapter by visiting here and clicking on the state. National AMBUCS invites Gold Wing Touring chapter members to find their nearest AMBUCS chapter by visiting here and typing in the state.
National AMBUCS, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, provides over 3,000 free therapeutic tricycles to children who face barriers to exercise and to the simple fun and freedom of riding a bike every year. AMBUCS believes every kid deserves a bike.
National AMBUCS also provides free adaptive bikes to our nation’s heroes through its Veterans Initiative Program (VIP), a nationwide grassroots movement that offers disabled Veterans rehabilitative, therapeutic and wholelife health opportunities. Over 600 Amtrykes have been gifted to Veterans or VHA facilities in the last seven years. Many Veterans who bravely fought to protect our country now face life changing challenges. AMBUCS believes these Veterans should have every opportunity to engage in the active lifestyle they enjoyed prior to their service.
Amtryke, LLC is a fully-owned subsidiary of AMBUCS. As charity that owns an adaptive bike company, the priority isn’t profit but rather the life-changing impact of the product and program. Surveyed riders (or parents/guardians) consistently report improved fitness and cardiovascular function, an enhanced mental and emotional state, increased pain management and range of motion.
The fifteen Amtryke models serve as a gateway into recreation, fitness, positive peer interaction and fun. The foot, hand or foot and hand-powered trykes along with various adaptations, meet the rider’s unique set of needs, providing myriad solutions for a spectrum of diagnoses.
Jay Laurens, executive director of National AMBUCS said, “Thanks to partners like the Gold Wing Touring Association, the number of riders benefitting from the quality of life changes provided by the Amtryke steadily increase. There’s no greater feeling than helping children ride for the first time and our nation’s heroes return to an active lifestyle.”
Aside from funding assistance, AMBUCS chapters are often also looking for volunteers to help build bikes and to help put on other events, including the best ones of all – bike giveaways!
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Founded in 1922, National AMBUCS, Inc. is a nonprofit charitable organization consisting of a diverse group of men and women dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities. That mission is fulfilled by providing Amtryke therapeutic tricycles to individuals who are unable to operate traditional bikes, awarding scholarships
to therapists and performing various other forms of community service. Currently, there are more than 5,000 members in over 158 chapters in more than 35 states.
Gold Wing Touring Association contact:
Judith Schaefer, Executive Director
email@example.com ● 800-960-4982 (GWTA)
The National Board of Directors is pleased to announce that AMBUCS hired Jay Laurens as its new Executive Director.
“Jay Laurens began his career with AMBUCS on January 1, 2017 and I am excited to have him on the team,” said Eric Oschwald, AMBUCS National President. “We are heading into exciting new times for our organization and we feel Jay is the best fit for our culture and expectations for growth.”
Today, our 95-year-old nonprofit charitable organization boasts more than 5,000 members in more than 150 chapters in over 30 states – all working on a grassroots level to fulfil one mission – creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities. Each year AMBUCS members donate approximately 3,500 Amtryke therapeutic tricycles. They also support 260 educational scholarships for students studying for a career in physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech language pathology and hearing audiology. Members also contribute countless hours and dollars toward various community service projects.
Jay comes to AMBUCS with nearly 20 years of nonprofit management experience and eight years in higher education administration. The majority of Jay’s extensive nonprofit work involved the oversight of residential, vocational and educational services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Just prior to joining the staff at AMBUCS, Jay served as Director of Career Services and Internships at Pfeiffer University, a private North Carolina liberal arts university. In this capacity, he coordinated placement of undergraduate and graduate students in experiential internships with nonprofit, corporate and governmental partners.
Jay’s educational background includes a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University and a Master of Arts in Special Education from Lenoir-Rhyne University. On a more personal level, he is father of a child with special needs, a former special education teacher and a recreational cyclist.
As the new Executive Director, Jay is responsible for overseeing the operations of AMBUCS and Amtryke; leading staff, volunteers, and members to fulfill the AMBUCS mission; and ensuring all nationwide AMBUCS programs are appropriately supported from the AMBUCS Resource Center in High Point, NC.
Regarding the challenges ahead, Jay recently said, “The work of AMBUCS will never be complete nor the mission fully accomplished. As long as disabilities occur at birth and as result of injury and the aging process, there will be a need for the dedicated service of our volunteers and staff. By continuing a strategic, coordinated approach to expanding AMBUCS’ national presence and aggressively exploring funding opportunities, progress will be significant and thousands more lives will be changed.”
Eric Oschwald is encouraging all members to be patient as the onboarding process takes place. The succession plan approved by the board is being put into action to ensure a smooth transition.
Please join us in welcoming Jay to the team!
Free Rides: AMBUCS Fosters Occupational Therapy Values Through Scholarships and Tricycle Donations article by Andrew Waite, published in OT Practice magazine on October 12, 2015. Used with permission.