You’re invited to a house party. Upon arrival you are greeted by plush cream carpet. “Shall I take my shoes off?” You hear yourself ask the host. Imagine if you are in a wheelchair, then this question is much bigger. This scenario was tweeted last Christmas by Samantha Renke, Actress and Disability Campaigner. It’s tricky to slip out of your wheels, pop them under the stairs and collect them at the end of the night…. for wheelchair users, it’s much more than just taking your shoes off.
March 1st, 10 years ago, Steve Wilkinson (aka @WheelchairSteve) launched “ International Wheelchair Day ” to celebrate the freedom and quality of life his wheelchair gives him and millions of other disabled people worldwide. Wheelchairs don’t just replace legs, body strength and other physical losses, they offer so much more.
Samantha told us “It’s easy and common to simply equate someone’s wheelchair to someone’s legs! Whilst this may be true, for me my wheelchair is so much more. It allows me to maintain my independence; to contribute and integrate into society. It allows me to dance, go on dates and show my pride in being a successful woman with a disability. My chair lets me stand out in a crowd and I’m proud to be different… my chair allows me to express my individuality and my passion for fashion! It’s more than a means to an end it represents the advancements in technology and the desire of society to be more inclusive.”
This journey to confidence, independence and inclusion into everyday life for disabled people started in 1595, when an unknown inventor made a chair for Phillip II of Spain. Since then many enhancements and features have been implemented and today there are over 5 million wheelchair users in Europe alone.
Four centuries on and Mike Spindle, former Formula 1 engineer, decided it was time to shake up the wheelchair industry, and set about designing his off-road Trekinetic Wheelchairs. We believe that the Trekinetic Wheelchairs, with their big mountain bike tyres, are the perfect solution to overcome the restraints of difficult, off road terrain.
International Wheelchair Day is also a day to reflect on the fact that the world is not as wheelchair friendly as it could be, especially when it comes to going off road. There are still many accessibility issues making life for wheelchairs users unnecessarily non-inclusive, but getting the right chair can help overcome some of those issues. Jess Thom @Touretteshero writes in her blog….“The Right Chair”: “The right wheelchair gives me autonomy and confidence, but the wrong one depresses me and limits my freedom.”
International Wheelchair Day gives people the opportunity to celebrate their independence. Beyond the Boundarys Trekinetic Wheelchairs are proud to be actively involved in this celebration. Our lightweight all terrain wheelchairs are designed to give disabled people access to all types of terrain and the confidence to overcome physical and emotional obstacles. The security these award-winning wheelchairs offer, help broaden horizons, overcome challenges, build self-esteem and encourage independence.
Why not join in celebrating this special day? Maybe attend an event near you or come along to one of the two accessibility events we are hosting and try a chair for size…
Next time you host a party, look for a tyre track across your carpet, and you will know everybody feels comfortable in their own shoes!