When we first heard about the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah, we were struck by the nearly miraculous stories coming out of this western town. Kids whose disabilities had seemingly sentenced them to a life of inactivity were, with the help of the center, its therapists, and its specialized gear, becoming truly independent.
And not only were the kids benefiting, their families were also overjoyed by the progress — their kids' newfound independence was also giving the families freedoms they hadn't experienced.
The center's strategy is straightforward: A watershed moment in the independence of any person is in their ability to sit up themselves. And that ability comes from so-called "core," or torso, strength.
So, many of the N.A.C.'s activities and exercises are focused on that task, although the Center expertly disguises the therapy — on horseback, in ropes courses, on bikes and, in the winter, on snow — as “fun.” And the results are often miraculous.
Today's surprise — when bike company Top End (www.invacare.com) heard about the segment, they were moved by the stories at the National Ability Center and agreed to donate an XLT Gold Handcycle; the cycle, which is worth almost $4000, is powered by the upper body and allows people whose lower extremities have been weakened by injury or disease to ride anywhere a normal bike will go.