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All-white 'HugBike' for pope on Autism Awareness Day

Special tandem bicycle assembled by autistic children

02 April, 15:19
All-white 'HugBike' for pope on Autism Awareness Day (ANSA) - Vatican City, April 2 - A special tandem bicycle, painted all white and assembled by autistic children, was given to Pope Francis on Wednesday to mark World Autism Awareness Day 2014.

Three boys from "Oltre il Labirinto Onlus", an autism assistance foundation, were selected to present the unique tandem bike.

Known as "HugBike", the tandem cycle design has the passenger seated in front of driver, who then embraces the passenger as he steers, making the ride safer and more suitable for children with special needs.

In a message from the Vatican marking the occasion, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, recalled a message sent by Pope Francis soon after he became pontiff last year, expressing his close feelings to the sick and the suffering.

"We must keep the thirst for the absolute alive in the world, not allowing a one-dimensional vision of the human person to prevail, according to which man is reduced to what he produces and to what he consumes: this is one of the most dangerous snares of our time," wrote Zimowski, quoting the words of the pope.

The special papal HugBike is an exclusive all-white version, produced in Padua and assembled at the Treviso-based Villaggio Godega 4Autism, one of the first collaborative autism co-housing project in Europe.

There, residents, including parents of autistic children along with technicians, volunteers, and psychologists work together to promote the inclusion of people with autism.