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The positive impact of getting out and about on a bike

Just like any other child his age, Xavier goes to school, has friends and loves outdoor activities. He enjoys listening to music, watching television and has a passionate interest in bikes, cars and anything with wheels. He always looks forward to going for a ride on his custom-made tricycle designed especially for him with the help of Fund for Good.

Xavier lives in Milton with his foster parents, Alex and Margaret, who are both retired. It was at a family conference that the couple were asked, alongside other members, if they’d consider fostering Xavier. The Gillanders volunteered. Alex says, “Well, we’ve got no huge responsibilities and a reasonable income. It couldn’t be too difficult to look after a child for a few years.”

Xavier lives with alternating hemiplegia of childhood. Expending too much energy triggers a paralysis attack. This causes loss of function on either side of his body for a brief period. Over the years, identifying these triggers has helped the family manage his condition better.

“The school camp was going to get all the kids to take their bikes and do a lot of biking in central Otago, but Xavier has never managed to ride a bike. It’s quite a tricky thing to stand upright,” says Alex. This was when the family benefited most from having the trike, Xavier could sit in front, and Alex was able to take him on an exhilarating ride.

The trike has had a positive impact on Xavier’s life. When things aren’t going well, Alex takes him for a bike ride, and everything falls back into place. “We chase the seagulls, we go around, and it gets him out of the house. It’s hours and hours of escape from these four walls,” adds Alex.

If you have a passion like Xavier and would like to fuel it further, apply to for Fund for Good.