“A lot of people think of the wheelchair as a medical instrument,” says Aaron Fatheringham a young man born with spina bifida who ‘tricked out’ his chair to accommodate his passion for extreme sports “I think that’s wrong. You know, why not think of it as something fun?”.
Wei Yen hand stitched her wheelchair cover and added many other accessories that make her mobility device more functional AND fun. Check out her foot pedal horn!
Good design meets people within the context of their lives. It prioritizes the social as well as the physical circumstances and needs of the individual.
The folks at Motivation – an international development charity supporting people with mobility disabilities – get this. With a focus on SURVIVAL, MOBILITY, EMPOWERMENT, and INCLUSION, they design and distribute high-quality, low-cost wheelchairs, tricycles and supportive seating products specifically for use in developing countries.
In North America we spend a lot of time and resources developing mobility devices that function – mechanically – really well. We spend far less time however, considering how well these same devices function within the social and cultural spaces of people’s lives. There is much we can learn from organizations like Motivation.
Benja loved showing off his newly pimped up chair to his friends. He now has a dragon snake tattooed all around that opens its mouth as the wheels turn, and several customized-by-friends accessories using velcro, and other material, enriching his wheelchair experience! His mom simply posted a message on Facebook saying “I’m starting a new project for Benja’s b’day, want to contribute to an art-a-ride project?”. It’s this simple and easy, help us spread the word.
Art-a-Ride connects creative people with kids with disabilities to turn their factory looking – medicalized – wheelchairs that highlight their limitations, into interesting, meaningful, and in the case of Benja here – super cool – “rides”.
The final co-creations, according to founder Eva de Lera, have a profound impact on the kids, their lives, and the lives of their families. How amazing!
I’ve talked about this before, personalizing mobility aids is a form of self-expression that is not only good for our health and the health of those around us, its also really fun!
The good news? We’re getting better about recognizing, supporting and celebrating paralympic athletes!
The bad news? We have a LONG way to go for equal coverage. Case in point – Canadian newspapers printed 332 front page stories on the London Olympics and just 22 (!) on the Paralympics. Come on Canada – we’re better than that! To see other stats on our poor showing check out the post from Senator Mobina Jaffer.
My buddy Hugo loves Lego – lets build one of these!