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The latest mobility device that’s changing lives

Wednesday, April 12, 2023   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: disabilities, physical activity, support, event, Community

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 11th April 2023

Karen Brill bought a walking bike 18 months ago that has let her get her life back.

Ms Brill was struggling with her weight, had damaged lungs, difficulty breathing and severe arthritis.

“In 2020, I went to Church and couldn’t even walk five metres without needing to take a rest. I disliked not being able to walk and live a normal life, and finally decided that I’d had enough,” says Ms Brill.

She settled on a large walking frame, hoping it would extend her mobility. Despite taking this step, Ms Brill came to another hurdle. “The walker was so wide I couldn’t even get through doorframes with it! I put up with it for a few months, but in early 2021 I thought it was ridiculous. So, I went online and stumbled across the Alinker walking bike.”

The Alinker is a walking bike without pedals, designed to let people live how they want regardless of mobility challenges. Dutch Canadian inventor Barbara Alink wanted to give people living with disabilities a new mobility device.

Ms Brill says that before the Alinker, any sort of exercise was hard. “I was 150kg and I couldn’t even get to the letterbox. My neighbour brought in my mail and took out my bins for me, and friends picked me up to take me to Church.” The new mobility invention allowed Ms Brill out of her home, and she was able to once again complete daily errands by herself.  

The walking bike helped Ms Brill lose enough weight to receive gastric bypass surgery and improve her quality of life, and be under the 100kg threshold to see a surgeon regarding knee surgery.

However, the benefits don’t stop at an increased health aspect. “It came down to the social aspect of it as well. People were talking to me in the street and my confidence was improving. I’d even leave myself extra time when I went out, so that I could stop and chat to anyone who had questions.

“Now, I’m walking about 6km a day. While I still cannot bend my knee, my lungs are healthy, my muscles are growing and I’m able to do things I haven’t done in years,” says Ms Brill.

Upcoming events for those with disabilites

Christchurch City Council’s upcoming Walking Festival caters to a range of disabilities. There’s 50-plus walks that are on offer between Saturday 8th April to Sunday 23rd April 2023. The Council has worked in collaboration with over 35 groups to provide a chance for Cantabrians to explore amazing walks in Ōtautahi, Selwyn and Waimakariri.

A new accessible walk hosted by New Zealand Spinal Trust is the Te Ara Ihutai Wheelie Wander on Sunday 23rd April. Meet at 11am at Scotts Park Main Road, Mt Pleasant, to wheel or wander along the Coastal Pathway and return.

The pathway is a highly accessible premier coastal walkway, boarding on scenic estuary. The walk is open to those in wheelchairs, and their friends and whānau.

Community and Marketing Coordinator Tina Morrell says New Zealand Spinal Trust are excited to be hosting this walk for the first time this year. “As staff, we like to live active, healthy lives and encourage the people we work alongside to remain active too. The wellbeing benefits of keeping physically active are immense,” says Ms Morrell.

Whether you’re a fan of local history, getting out into nature, socialising or pushing yourself to get that awesome view, there’s something for all ages and abilities.

Find out more information about the Walking Festival.

Also coming up in Christchurch is the Show Your Ability expo on Tuesday 9th May. This disability equipment expo will be held at Pioneer Recreation and Sport Centre.