Category Archives: things that make me go "glll"
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.
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.
It 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.
As our travel itinerary was shaping up with us somewhere between Arizona and California for Halloween… we decided Las Vegas might be the place to go. They have a street parade on Freemont Street, it seemed like a fun place to be.
Mac and his mates had done some research on possible ideas for a costume before he left (thanks Google & the “Tuesday afternoon costume committee brotherhood”). The general consensus was that creepy clowns, blood, gore and/or maybe something with a severed head were the preferred options. Seriously, these kids have got 11yo boy down pat…
I was a little nervous. Creating a costume that would stack up in the US from the confines of a hotel room – that would meet both Mac’s & his mates’ expectations? Was it possible?
Thankfully, there were plenty of Halloween pop up shops available for our shopping pleasure prior to getting to Vegas. Shawn found a fab ‘creepy clown’ balcony decoration suitable for hanging above the wheelchair to allow the skeleton clown to appear as though it was holding Mac’s severed head in its boney hands. “Hacky the Clown” (as he came to be known) was the perfect fit.Mac was thrilled.
It worked a treat. He was far from cute!
So many admiring glances and looks of pure joy from everyone he passed – with the occasional double take as his head moved around when they were least expecting it. You’ve never seen such a delighted severed head.
Oh… and the creepy clown voice audio we put onto Shawn’s phone so we could ‘bluetooth it’ to Mac’s portable speaker if anyone was in earshot – well, that was more for Shawn’s and my enjoyment 😉 .
Mac certainly held his own in the parade and got tonnes of wonderful photos with plenty of other “creeps” on the night.
ABOVE: Mac and Hacky with zipper face guy and his fluffy friend, a devilish dude + the Hulk Hogans
BELOW: Mac’s tattoo (to meet the ‘gore’ requirement), a family portrait and Mac, Hacky and Gene Simmons
The social media platform we chose for Mac to stay in touch with friends back home was firing on all cylinders with everyone loving his costume and many sharing their own creations from their own fun nights.
Thanks Freemont Street and the Las Vegas Halloween Parade… you have set the bar high.
The cinema was dark… Transformers 4 was proving a fun feast for our senses.
Mac along two of his mates, W & C, had been transfixed from the start.
The other boys shared popcorn while Mac provided the odd giggle, ‘coo’ or ‘glaar’ when the intensity of the moment required it.
We were most the way through the movie when out of the corner of my eye I saw W lean in close to Mac and heard him whisper…
W: “Mac, are you enjoying the movie?”
Mac’s response was silent but offered W a facial expression not unlike this image – a big open mouth, scrunchy face response
W: whispering again… “I take that as a yes.”
And with that he settled back into his seat as they watched the final showdown of the movie.
Verbal responses not necessary.
Authentic. Simple. Beautiful.
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)
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.
School’s in for 2014 which means swimming carnivals are on the agenda across the district.
As per last year, I braved the pool to help Mac with his “Macstroke” races, so he could get some points for his sports house. Together we swam the 11-year-boys breaststroke, backstroke & freestyle events…
then this happened!
Two of his mates decided they wanted to swim with him in the last race of the day and negotiated with me to resign my position on Team Mac. With Mac now in 5th grade, I am guessing there’s a very good chance I won’t get a ‘look in’ next year, if today’s success is any indication.
There was also significant desire from Mac’s sports house Captain to include him in the relays, but with a few too many kids making themselves available we opted for the free swim at the end of the day. After all, he’d already competed in every other event possible.
What a wonderful day, what a wonderful sight to watch Mac and his two mates compete as a team.
Who’d want it any other way?
I watch one of Mac’s classmates, “C” scurry back into the room after the bell had gone.
“Have you got one of those wheelchair sheets?” he asked the teacher, “I’m taking one home for my Dad.”
‘What’s a wheelchair sheet?’ you ask …
Well, it seems the kids are working on inventions and mods for Mac’s wheelchair at the moment, some work is going on in class… others are taking it home to keep working on. But “C” decided his Dad will probably have some good ideas on how to make Mac’s chair work for soccer… C’s dad also uses a wheelchair.
I had a good chuckle with C’s mum about the fact her husband is now getting homework.
But… let’s just think about what is going on here.
Mac’s peers and Mac are designing wheelchair modifications and activities to make it possible for Mac to do more stuff WITH THEM.
I’ve seen a couple of the blueprints.
There’s a multi-net cricket catching contraption, a catapult style bowling attachment (yay for the girls for finally coming up with a catapult) and one of the boys is working on how to attach the class carpet sweeper to Mac’s chair, so he can help out with class chores.
Part of this ties in to their “Awesome in August” class challenge, but much of this innovative thinking has followed some of the other kids designing a way for Mac to play handball with them in the playground.
The handball idea was the kids’ initiative. They do seek out our assistance (but generally only when they need me to buy something LOL).
This is our future generation, this is the society we get to look forward to. A society where where inclusion and innovation reign supreme.
So why would anyone want less than this for their kids?
Why do people choose segregated schools, segregated classrooms or segregated activities? Why don’t they want what is on offer in a place where “all means all”, where disability “value adds” and where innovation, problem solving and broader thinking is the norm?
I can see the society I want my son to grow up in, and I look forward to it. I’m not convinced that the other choices don’t actually weaken a society.