Three wheels of happiness & health

Getting outside and exercising can sometimes be a very difficult task for many Kiwi children living with special needs.

But for students at Goldfields Special School in Paeroa that problem has been slashed in half after the Mazda Foundation recently donated just over $7,500 to buy two specially adapted trikes.

Goldfields Special School therapy manager and physiotherapist Susie Nyika with a student on one of the two trikes, purchased with a donation from the Mazda Foundation recently. Photo: Supplied

Goldfields provides education, health, and social support to students with special needs and services the Coromandel, Thames Valley, Piako and Hauraki districts.

Many of the students are from low socioeconomic backgrounds and a high percentage of Maaori and Pasifika students are increasingly encountering obesity issues.

Therapy manager and physiotherapist Susie Nyika says about 15 students will benefit specifically from the trikes which have been adapted for children with special needs.

The trikes also allow for optional accessories like a back rest, ankle support and a rear steering system.

“We are just really delight by the Mazda Foundation’s donation,” says Susie. “All of our students are special needs, but some need support to sit up and normally wouldn’t be able to ride a trike.

“We also have students with obesity issues and it can be challenging getting kids active enough to meet that problem. These trikes are a creative way to keep the students fit and healthy.”

In terms of meeting the health needs of the school’s students, Susie the rule of thumb for staff was getting their children exercising until they start puffing for roughly 60 minutes each day.

But this can prove challenging and the trike gives Goldfields another exercise option on top of swimming, horse riding and walking.

Along with meeting the physical and therapeutical needs of students, the trikes will also help meet students’ emotional needs too.

“Our students often aren’t able to communicate verbally and have sensory integration difficulties, such as rocking and head banging, it can even run into self-harming.

“Exercise like biking is quite calming, it’s really good for them plus they’re out in the sunshine and the fresh air as well. It’s a real bonus for us.

“We’d want to thank the Mazda Foundation for these trikes because now even the most physically complex students have access to trike riding.”

The Mazda Foundation is funded through a contribution from the sale of every new Mazda in New Zealand.

In its first funding round for the year the foundation has donated more than $80,000 to 28 individuals and groups across the country.

Each year the foundation holds three funding rounds and in total has gifted more than $1.7million back to the community since its inception a decade ago.

The closing date for the next round of Mazda Foundation applications is June 30.

For more information or to download an application form visit the Mazda Foundation’s website at:



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