Variety’s Kids on the Go! Program has four components…bikes, specialized bikes, durable medical equipment and vans. Each of these provide recreational, therapeutic and transportation opportunities for children.
Do you remember receiving your first bike? Bikes go hand in hand with being a kid, but for many kids in our community, the prospect of having their own bike is only a dream. Through the generosity of donors, Variety has made that dream a reality by providing bikes, helmets and locks to hundreds of kids throughout the state.
Bikes for Kids is a trademark program of Variety -- the Children's Charity. Many at-risk children have never had their own bike, new or old. Variety works with the a designated school district/community to provide the names of qualified children between the ages of 5-12. Once the children are identified, they are asked to complete a form telling why they would like a new bike, where they would ride it and how they would take care of it. Upon receipt of said forms, Variety notifies the children that they have WON a new bike, helmet and lock.
Bike rides, zoo days, trips to the park - these are all staples of childhood that kids with special needs want to experience. They want to be active and mobile like other children in their communities.
But the durable medical equipment necessary to give these kids the independence they desire is often too expensive for many families, especially those with too many other expenses necessary for raising a child with special needs. And insurance isn’t always the answer - in many cases, devices like adaptive bikes and special needs strollers are denied, despite their immense physical and therapeutic benefits, because insurance will not provide coverage for these necessary items. Even wheelchairs can take several years to be funded by insurance.
This is where Variety steps in. Variety Kids on the Go! aims to help kids gain mobility, confidence, freedom, independence and the chance to join in the life of their community by providing funding for specialized bicycles, walkers, wheelchairs, therapeutic strollers and other devices to families with the most need. These items empower these children to be physically independent.
The objective of the Variety Van Program is to help children’s agencies throughout Iowa meet essential transportation needs where other funding sources may not be available. Variety Vans give children the freedom to travel and experience new adventures that simply would not otherwise be possible. These vans may include custom modifications such as hydraulic lifts for wheelchairs and special seating configurations. Variety Vans transport children to facilities and hospitals where they receive necessary services as well as provide kids with the opportunities to enjoy field trips and recreational outings. When applying for a van, organizations may determine which van will best meet their transportation needs either a minivan, a 15-passenger van or larger vehicles, like a bus. Today, more than 425 Variety Vans have been awarded.
To see more information on what organizations have recieved a Variety Van, please CLICK HERE.
Variety recently launched a community project that will benefit children with cognitive and physical disabilities and memorialize our friend and past board member, Ashley Okland. The Ashley Okland Star Park will be an all-inclusive playground located within Ewing Park, on the southeast side of Des Moines.
On July 17, 2014 we opened the park to the public!
The playground will cater to special-needs kids by featuring adapted playground equipment, but, it will be built to encourage play among children of all abilities, so it can break down barriers and foster friendships.