Category Archives: The ‘mod’ squad

water warfare for everyone…

As luck would have it Mac attended a classmates birthday party where the ‘order of the day’ was a water pistol fight.

I knew someday Mac would absolutely NEED a water pistol, truth be told he should have had one years ago… he’s 11 for crying out loud.

It’s not that I haven’t been looking… it’s just finding the perfect combination of battery powered pistol, ease of switch adapting, wheelchair “mountability” and being able to actually buy it when I found it didn’t come together until late last year.

We were traveling overseas and so I did some “retail research” for those few elusive, but sought after, items.

And. There. It. Was.

Courtesy of quick trip into Cerritos Walmart, CA – it looked to be perfect option.

And. It. Is.

Mac gave as good as he got today at the party, he was drenched but delighted.  The kids were stoked with his ‘water pistol weapon of choice’, quite a few of these guys were in his class for the “macifications” two years ago so were also interested in how the gun actually worked and was tweaked.

SO WHAT IS IT… AND WHAT DID WE DO WITH IT?

The Fuze Cyclone Water Blaster from FUZE UK.
Image showing teenage boy riding a bmx bike with water pistol mounted on the handle bars (head & shoulder shot).  Inset pics show close up of the button control unit to press with your thumb to operate the water pistol, mounted next to the hand grip.  Additional closeup of the water pistol firing water.Designed for mounting on your bike handlebars it was a great choice for a wheelchair because:

  • it already had mounting options,
  • it already had the three key operational functions assigned to buttons,
  • it was battery operated.

Mac’s Pa undertook ‘hacking duties’ once again and got it switch adapted it for him.  He used three plugs coming out from the handlebar attachment.  Mac used a head activated switch for the fire option, his left and right options were attached to a joystick but most often maneuvered by his “wheelchair pusher”.

It was a little bit tricky to get the button component apart as it had been glued closed, but, once open and adapted it had the option to screw it back together… a nice surprise.

close up of the button firing unit with the three plugs coming out the side ready for plugging  switches into.  Small grey component with blue directional buttons and an orange fire buttonIt would be great if the Fuze team considered the option to build in some disability access as standard – they really be world leaders if they went down that path. I generally joke that switch access for toys costs three cents at build stage, three dollars if you do it yourself or three hundred dollars if you get a disability organisation involved, sadly, it’s not really a joke.

Interestingly, Fuze have quite a few products that could intersect with the youth wheelchair market.  The fact they don’t cost a fortune is a welcome relief from the usual slamming people with disabilities get around prices of products they need.

One thing to note with this particular product is many kids will find the standard buttons suitable for use without any hacking required.

Check out the FUZE UK range on the above link, there are some cool wheel lights and even a speaker and mount for your phone or media device which just might suit some wheelchairs out there.

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Filed under Access all Areas, friends, The 'mod' squad, things that make me go "glll"

making the world more ALLsome

You might remember me mentioning that the “Handball Machine” was the catalyst for those “Macifications” (mods to Mac’s wheelchair) his classmates worked on last year?

The kids (Mac included) just decided one day Mac needed a way to play handball.  Their idea was to have something mounted at the front of Mac’s jogger to allow him to “play” without getting hurt.

For days, I would turn up at school with them telling me what they had tried, asking me to bring in more items to test, giving me the results on their experimentation.

Some of the failures included:

  • bin lids (too hard to mount and metal)
  • tennis racquets (too much chance Mac could get hit if they didn’t aim well enough)
  • plastic container lids (too flimsy)
  • various wheelchair trays (too big, too little, absorbed the bounce of the handball too much)

Until …

Someone came up with the excellent idea of a Crazy Catch (a ball sport reflex/catching trainer).  I was dispatched immediately to purchase one for the ongoing experiment (cost … inconsequential ;-) according to the kids)

The feedback following their ‘first trial run’ was that they felt a customised size was necessary.  Followed up by a simple “could I make that for them” (hooray for hacksaws).  A couple of cheap golf buggy umbrella holders to help hold the Crazy Catch arms in place and the odd piece of velcro was all it took to make their invention a reality.

This year their “hack” has moved onto the football field.  The net angle gets reduced a little, Flag Football tags (AusTag here in Oz) are attached on the side of the jogger to allow Mac to be ‘tackled’.  Their next planned mod includes a pouch on the front of the net to allow the ball to be passed (with a degree of skill including reverse spin or perfect placement) to allow it to roll into the pouch.

I love watching these ideas come to fruition and then evolve.

Mac loves being in the midst of it all and considers himself “quite good at handball”.  Although i’m not sure the speed and chaos of the football field won’t win him over.  Time will tell.

It is very ALLsome.

 


 

VIDEO AUDIO DESCRIPTION & SCRIPT
So, it's not that cool when you can't play handball with your mates.  But with mates like Mac's it's 'way cool'. At our school the kids invent mac-ifications.  That is, modifications to Mac's wheelchair so they can all do more things.  Like this handball machine.  All they needed was a bike jogger, a Crazy Catch, two umbrella holders and some velcro.  (video footage of the kids playing with the ball bouncing off the front net).  Pretty awesome don't you think?    Just goes to show... when ALL means ALL, we make the world more ALLsome.

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Filed under Access all Areas, friends, Inclusion... straight up!, The 'mod' squad, things that make me go "glll"

eggs on legs

The Easter Hat Parade takes on a different form at our school.  For K-2 they work on your stereotypical “Easter bonnets” for the Hat Parade.   The big kids (Grades 5-6) do Egg Diorama’s called “Egg-o-ramas” (usually with a specific theme) and are, literally, something to behold.

When you are in Grades 3 & 4 you produce “Eggs on Legs”.  Generally, poster sized egg characters in many different guises that you get to carry around the parade circuit.  This year there was a huge variety including Darth ‘Vad-egg’, Spongebob Square Egg, Princess Eggs, Bunny Eggs, Dinosaurs breaking out of their Eggs,  the Jimi Hendrix “Eggs-perience”, Storm Troop-eggs, Harry Pott-eggs and so many more.

So, what to do when you’re a ‘wheelie’ who can’t carry their own ‘egg on legs’?

Isn’t it obvious…

You turn your entire wheelchair into an “Egg on Legs”!

The kids were very excited to see those legs walking on his wheels.  His classmate “J” took on the role of ‘egg pusher’ in an instant.

As I packed the eggs away in the wardrobe I thought “at least we’re done for next year ;-) “… although we may just get the kids to help us ‘tart up’ the old eggy so he at least seems ‘current’ in 2013.

And while is certainly good fun making stuff like this (and not terribly difficult) it does allow for some incidental learning for the kids.  Today they got a little insight into animation, how to ‘pimp a wheelchair’, and how to easily create funny characters with carboard, bit of timber, a glue stick, paper and thick black texta.  The whole activity gives them a great chance to explore character modifications/tweaks and start to really take in the whole idea of a ‘play on words’.  It really is a fun activity.

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Filed under Access all Areas, Inclusion... straight up!, The 'mod' squad

Would you, could you, lend a hand?

I am not one to ask for help very often – learning how has been on my to-do list for sometime.

But, this is one thing I don’t want to ‘hog’ – this is something I am sure some of you might want to share in, help be part of the solution, part of the excitement, part of the fun.

Long time readers know of my plans, desires, dreams for a SMART wheelchair (robotic) that is affordable, light weight and, well, smart.

You can read about it here in my “I have a dream…” post.

They will also remember that the brilliant mind of Daniele Benedettelli is on the job, over in Italy.

Danny is starting to ‘ramp’ things up a little and so has put the call out for some donations to kick start the project.

The initial equipment purchase is USD$400 and Paypal donation option is available on the project site.

CLICK LOGO TO VISIT THE PROJECT SITE

If anyone can spare a penny, a pound, a dime or a dollar it would be fantastic to get this project “rolling” (I could have said “off the ground” but  since no one is offering me a ‘hovercraft wheelchair’… rolling it is).

If anyone has any contacts or ideas for getting some ‘bigger’ sponsorship behind this project then please, feel free to contact Danny via his site or myself directly.

 

 

 

 

While we know Mac would benefit from this type of chair it is pretty obvious he isn’t the only one.  In fact, a good friend who is a wonderful teacher in our local area said she would love something like this. She doesn’t have a physical disability but she is blind, and there are times she would like to be able to get from A to B on her own, while having a conversation (or daydream) and not having to put all her attention into concentrating on safe passage with her cane.

Thanks for listening

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Filed under Access all Areas, The 'mod' squad, the big picture

windscreen wheels

After Mac’s “shoe wheels” last week his wheelchair wheels spent a day and a half ”naked” – it just didn’t seem right.

So we went in search of a replacement design – no fixed ideas in mind, just keen to see where the hunt would take us.

As it turned out we ended up at an Auto Shop and picked up one of those folding windscreen shades.

They cut up really easily, have heaps of cool patterns to choose from, are waterproof and really, really quick to install.

At only $9 they are pretty cheap too (considering how much time they save).

Mac chose the design – he said he would LOVE the wave and cabin design on his chair.  It is a pretty cool surfer design – his mates particularly like the “wave side”.

Now I have one more thing to keep an eye out for – just in case there is a fabulous design we “need”.

This design reminds me of my Uncles who were teenagers in the 70s and had fancy wheels on their Volkswagen Beetles and Combi vans.

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Shumann the Shoeman

This year saw Shumann the Shoeman by John and Stella Danalis as our book in focus for Book Week 2010.

Today was a fun day with both the ‘live show’ of Shumann and celebrations in the form of “Crazy Shoe Day” (a kind of mufti for your feet day).  A ‘grand’ shoe parade started the day off and was lots of fun.

Mac and I were torn as to what he should do… crazy shoes potentially interfere with his communication (being a foot switcher) and short of buying something – he really didn’t own anything super ‘crazy’ that happened to be the right size.

So we decided to go with “Crazy Shoe Wheels”

Mac was happy, the kids were impressed.  His wheels were reminiscent of a caterpillar wearing shoes (with eight pairs on there he wasn’t too far off the mark).

I still haven’t managed to read Shumann the Shoeman so can’t offer you a review.

Who knows, Mac might decide to borrow it from the library one week so we can both share in the story.

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Filed under Access all Areas, Accessing the Curriculum, first grade here I come, The 'mod' squad

same same but different…

To borrow a ‘tinglish‘ phrase…

Mac and Shawn were out and about on the weekend just having a “Dad’n Lad day”.  So often is is either just Mac and I or all three of us so it is nice for them to just hang out on their own.

Shawn experienced one of those moments many parents of children with a disability often dread.  You know the one, when another child stops dead in their tracks, stares and points.

He said his initial feeling was a slightly uneasy ‘hmmm, OK then, how’s this going to go down?”

The little boy, now standing straddled over his own push bike, waited for his Dad to catch up to him, turned to him, pointing first to himself, then to Mac and declared…

“Look, same… Ben 10 bike… Ben 10 wheelchair”

That’s it.

Same same!

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Filed under The 'mod' squad