Thanks to a generous donation of Trek bikes from Illawarra bike shop Simple Cycles, 21 young people from across CareSouth’s wide geographic footprint have a set of new wheels. Simple Cycles recently donated the bikes to children and young people in our foster care programs in the Illawarra, Nowra, Batemans Bay and Western region. The bikes, in near-new condition, added a little extra joy to the lives of young people, in what has been a tough 12 months due to COVID-19.
And the positive impact the bikes have had on their confidence and independence has been huge.
“Who would have thought such a small thing could make such a massive difference to someone’s life,” said Illawarra Permanency Support caseworker Kathleen Vega, one of many staff who jumped at the chance to deliver a Trek mountain bike to a 10-year-old boy she supports.
“It has not only lifted his confidence but it has given him a new level of independence,” said Kathleen. “He can now ride to his friend’s house for a sleepover, whereas before he was very clingy towards his carer and would just stay at home and play computer games.
“Now he rides around the lake on the bike track with his mates and it has made a huge difference to his activity levels.”
The youngster received his bike just before Christmas and it couldn’t have come at a better time for his carer.
“It took a huge amount of pressure off the carer,” said Kathleen. “His trampoline broke just before Christmas and he really wanted a new tramp, a bike or an Xbox. The carer could only choose one of those things, so receiving the donated bike took some of the financial burden off her.
“The carer is so grateful for the donation. And the young person was so excited to show his birth mum his bike during their Christmas visit and all the things he could do on it. I just think it’s such a great opportunity for these kids. I never thought a bike would lift someone’s confidence so much.”
Simple Cycles ‘Trade Up Program’ gives owners of Trek bikes the option of trading in their used bike and applying the trade-in value towards the purchase of a new one. The bikes which are traded in are then serviced, cleaned up and donated to not-for profit organisations or charities who have kids in need.
The ‘Trade Up program’ means Simple Cycles makes no profit on children’s bikes but the cause is close to the heart of owners David, Suzanne and Peter McGuinn, who love nothing more than knowing they have helped bring a smile to a young person’s face. The Trade Up Program was Peter’s idea.
The couple’s birth son was five when the family began to consider becoming foster carers. “He’s walked that journey with us,” said Suzanne. “And as a co-owner it was his initiative to run the program and offer bikes to not-for-profits who will benefit.”
Peter, now 30, grew up with an adopted sibling and two other children who are under guardianship orders. The family have an intricate understanding of foster care and all that it entails – Suzanne was once the Barnardos mother-of-the-year runner up and David had an executive role with the Australian Foster Care Association.
So, when a customer visited Simple Cycles and it came up in conversation that his wife worked for CareSouth, Suzanne knew exactly who she was going to contact to take delivery of some of the Trade Up bikes on offer.
“To give a child some piece of joy makes it so worthwhile,” said Suzanne.
CareSouth is extremely grateful for the generous donation from Simple Cycles. For more information about the Trade Up program visit www.simplecycles.com.au.