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Let's celebrate International Wheelchair Day!

WheelchairSteveWheelchairSteve Posts: 11Member Courageous
edited July 2017 in Guest blogs

Did you know that Wednesday 1st March 2017 is International Wheelchair Day? Possibly not, as even with the internet making information more readily available, it takes some time to spread the word.

On 1st March 2008, I launched International Wheelchair Day. I'm a lifelong wheelchair user and accessibility campaigner known by many as @WheelchairSteve. Since then, people around the world have found references to International Wheelchair Day and used it to celebrate the wheelchair, which is what the day is all about.

Logo - text reads International Wheelchair Day 1st March 2017

I “googled” International Wheelchair Day in 2008 and discovered there wasn’t one, so decided to create one, announcing it in a blog. I chose 1st March as a dedication to my late Mother, Joyce, who had encouraged me so much as a child, pushing me to school in my chair, after he’d been born with Spina Bifida.

I recognise myself and encourage others to celebrate likewise that my wheelchair gives me the freedom to get out and about, something I wouldn’t be able to do without it.

International Wheelchair Day has 3 main aims:

  • To enable wheelchair users to celebrate the positive impact a wheelchair has in their lives.
  • To celebrate the great work of the many millions of people who provide wheelchairs, who provide support and care for wheelchair users and who make the World a better and more accessible place for people with mobility issues.
  • To acknowledge and react constructively to the fact there are many tens of millions of people in the World who need a wheelchair, but are unable to acquire one.

While it took several years to take off, celebrations on the Day have taken place all over the World. To date there have been activities and events in Australia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Senegal, USA as well as here in the UK. Everyone is encouraged to celebrate in their own particular way whether it is individually or as a group.

The biggest event that has been held every year since 2012 has been in Kathmandu, Nepal, where the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre has held a rally where wheelchair users have paraded through the streets celebrating the freedom their wheelchairs give them while highlighting the access issues that still exist in the city. In 2016, over 300 wheelchair users and helpers took part.

Hundreds of wheelchairs going down a road in Nepal

Just before this year’s International Wheelchair Day, I received an email from a lady in South Africa to say they have been able to “start a drive to raise funds for 3 wheelchairs for folk in Sub Economic Old Age homes in Cape Town”, satisfying the 3rd aim of the Day.

In 2015, I wrote a book called “The History of International Wheelchair Day ”, which is available to download as a pdf free of charge from the International Wheelchair Day website. You can also download the official logos free of charge from the website, to use as part of your celebration activity or event. Each year since 2011, the official logo has been designed by accomplished cartoonist and wheelchair user, Hannah Ensor from Oxford.

Now that you are more aware of International Wheelchair Day, hopefully even more people will get involved going forward and International Wheelchair Day will become more established and recognised in the years ahead.

Replies

  • mossycowmossycow Posts: 486Community champion Pioneering
    Fantastic!!!  I know friends who feel their wheelchair is a symbol of their pain and 'disability' but for me it is pure freedom!!!!  After months of severe pain and not being able to stand... sitting in less pain and being able to move was fantastic. In November 2016, through motability via PIP I received my powerchair....I cant put into words how it felt to be back out again. I started voluntary work when I thought I';d never work again.

    We have such a long way to go with adequate access, toilets, access to wheelchairs...but the chair is a thing to be celebrated and I love my new identity in it.

    "I'm trying to live like a random poem I read that ended 'to bloom where we are planted"

  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    I had to spend some time in a wheelchair last year after a particularly aggressive surgery that left me unable to walk or stand for very long.  I think about disability a lot, I talk about it, write about it and work with lots of wheelchair users yet it wasn't until I was in the position of being in a chair that I realised just how inaccessible society can be!

    Just one little thing of cars parking next to drop curbs made life really tough! I wonder if we should have adverts showing people what it is really like or even a project in schools where people are put in the position of having to think about access as a disabled person?
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • MileOakMileOak Posts: 2Member Listener

    I am Head Teacher at Mile Oak Primary School. We have a young lad in our community who was born without legs. Our school council has decided that we would like to raise money to buy him a hand driven bicycle and at the same time, raise disability awareness at our school.

    We decided that we would like to raise the money by setting up and charging our pupils to take part in some disability based sports. We thought the kids could have a go at wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and perhaps, some blind football.

    I was wondering where we could get a loan of suitable equipment - wheelchairs etc.

    The school is a large Primary School (530 kids) at the west end of Brighton.

    Any contacts or help would be much appreciated.

    Regards

    Martin Cooper


    Read more at https://community.scope.org.uk/discussion/32034/hi-my-name-is-mileoak#rWZhfroUYBH6hKvg.99
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @MileOak there is lots of info and resources on the British Blind Sport website that might be useful.

    I also found Albion in the Community which appears to do disability awareness sessions in schools in Brighton and Active Sussex has resources about disability sports.

    Hope this helps


    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • PhilipPhilip Posts: 34Member Courageous
    Does anyone know where or how I could get an electric propelled wheelchair from please, any help would be appreciated 
  • samantha_milnesamantha_milne Posts: 1Member Listener
    edited March 2017
    Scope International Wheelchair Day – My Experience 

    I sometimes feel that the wheelchair is a given a bad press. The chair is seen as the symbol for disability, this means that the wheelchair is seem as something that means less abled, hold people back and prevent someone living an independent and furling life.

    When I was younger I used a major buggy, this was I larger version of the maclaren push chair, was really useful for many year however on reflection I that I should had had a wheelchair sooner as it would have given me more independence.   

    My first NHS wheelchair was great when I had it, I could propel a short distance on my own. When I had it I had just had an operation and had been given a big red wheelchair to come home with. So my small black new wheelchair was just what I needed. 

     However about seven years later I had leant to drive and was becoming more independent, however my NHS  wheelchair was heavy and I was unable to lift the chair in and out of the car. 

    I had a new light weight made to measure wheelchair and a power assisted device.  This has really changed how I see my wheelchair. The wheelchair I have now has  provide me with so many opportunities, I can go out and about and enjoy increased independence. For years I never went into my local town now you can't keep me out of town I meet friends, go shopping meals out there's just not stopping me .

  • MSmum99MSmum99 Posts: 26Member Courageous

    Philip said:

    Does anyone know where or how I could get an electric propelled wheelchair from please, any help would be appreciated 


    Your local NHS board should provide you with a power chair if you need one, especially if you want to go out independently.  Ask your GP or specialist health team or physio for a referral for an assessment.

    I needed my first powerchair so I could drive a 'drive-from' car, even though I could walk short distances at the time.  I thought they would say  no but agreed straight away and advised I needed an indoor-outdoor chair so I   got my 'quickie salsa'.

    Now my disability has progressed I use my chair full time and have been re-assesed and will get the same model which tilts to let me rest and do physio and with extra supports.

    I do live in Wales and experience may be different elsewhere. Can't help to ask though!

  • MSmum99MSmum99 Posts: 26Member Courageous
    edited April 2017


    MileOak said:


    I am Head Teacher at Mile Oak Primary School. We have a young lad in our community who was born without legs. Our school council has decided that we would like to raise money to buy him a hand driven bicycle and at the same time, raise disability awareness at our school.

    We decided that we would like to raise the money by setting up and charging our pupils to take part in some disability based sports. We thought the kids could have a go at wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and perhaps, some blind football.

    I was wondering where we could get a loan of suitable equipment - wheelchairs etc.

    The school is a large Primary School (530 kids) at the west end of Brighton.

    Any contacts or help would be much appreciated.

    Regards

    Martin Cooper


    Read more at https://community.scope.org.uk/discussion/32034/hi-my-name-is-mileoak#rWZhfroUYBH6hKvg.99





    This is a great idea, why not get local businesses involved too for sponsorship and maybe your pupils could review the accessibility of their premises to widen the awareness raising.
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