Trail blazing for all abilities set to get easier

Published on 13 April 2018

Shayla on bike.jpg

Shayla Meredith’s face lights up when she goes riding on her adaptive bike. And while she’s non-verbal, her grin says it all.

Now thanks to a joint venture between Nillumbik Shire Council, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Australian Government, heading out to the Diamond Creek Trail will be a whole lot easier for families like Shayla and mum Cheryl, with the construction of a shed to store these special bikes.

Combined grants of $15,000 have been awarded to building the storage facility.

Shayla’s adaptive bike is relatively small compared to some of the bigger ones. Either way, most bikes can’t be transported in cars, so being able to store them in a shed at the Diamond Creek site next to the trail will make getting out to ride less of a cumbersome, often back-breaking ordeal for parents and carers.

Shayla, 24, of Diamond Creek was born at 24 weeks weighing only 704 grams. She has cerebral palsy and needs assistance to walk, eat and with all her personal care.

And Ms Meredith said being able to store the bike in the shed would mean more frequent rides in a safe off-road environment for her daughter.

“Biking is Shayla’s favourite thing in the world, followed by swimming,” Ms Meredith said. “Right now I have to push her along, but she’ll hopefully soon learn to get the hang of the pedals which will help build up muscles in her legs.”

Ms Meredith’s tall, strapping 21-year-old son has just graduated from uni, and while he was also a premmie baby, he thrived. When her kids were little, Ms Meredith made a promise to Shayla: “I’ll do my best to make sure you never miss out on fun things that your brother does.”

Biking is one of those things. And building the shed will make it a little bit easier for Ms Meredith to keep her promise.  

“I’m hugely grateful that the shed is being built,” she said.

Chair of the Inclusion Advisory Committee, Councillor Jane Ashton said given the Diamond Creek Trail was the most popular trail in Melbourne’s north, it was wonderful the shed could be used to make biking easier for people of all abilities.

“It means so much to families who have to battle transporting these cumbersome bikes around. It’s wonderful to be able to help out,” Cr Ashton said.

Council would love to hear from anyone who has, or knows someone with an adaptive bike, or would use one now that a shed is being built to store them in Diamond Creek. 

To discuss specific needs or get involved in the shed design, please contact Council’s Community Inclusion Coordinator Angela Lampard on 9433 3355 or email inclusion@nillumbik.vic.gov.au by Friday 27 April.
 
Image: Cheryl and Shayla Meredith are excited going biking is set to be a whole lot easier.