Tag Archives: pimp my wheelchair

the society I see… is the society for me!

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.

clipart image of a blueprint drawing with a ruler and pencil laying over them - blueprint sketch is ambiguous and not relevant to story - it's just an illustration

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.


Filed under Access all Areas, Inclusion... straight up!, things that make me go "glll"

happy fourth…

retro postcards greetings from Orlando & greetings from Los Angeles

We enjoyed our first ever Fourth of July in the USA last week.

Taking a weeks holiday on the way home from the Society for Disability Studies annual conference in Orlando, Florida we got to experience some wonderful times with great people both in Orlando and LA.

In true form we didn’t miss the opportunity to “pimp” Mac’s wheelchair – he was well and truly ready to celebrate in style with the rest of the USA.  A couple of flags some cut up plastic tablecloths woven to represent the USA flag on his wheels and his chair was right to go.

side shot of Mac's manual chair showing two small USA flags on each handle and the wheels with stylised/woven plastic to emulate the US Flag, woven red and white stripes on 3/4 of the spokes and blue woven with tiny white knots on 1/4

The exciting part was we actually got to participate IN the local parade with our friends and their friends who also had international visitors staying.  We helped decorate a ’66 Ford pickup, decked ourselves out in flag shirts from Old Navy and sat back and enjoyed the ride.


four pics inline 3 kids meeting Santa dressed in shorts and waistcoat with sleigh in background, Gina+Shawn+Mac family shot wearing USA tee shirts, Mac side on in wheelchair with two friends sitting on curb using his foot switches to chat, and the Ford truck with streamers and signs and our crew in the back for the parade.

US flag merging into Aussie flag with stylised text "thanks for the memories"


Filed under Access all Areas, Inclusion... straight up!, things that make me go "glll"

more specifically… which reindeer?

We were at a disability equipment expo.  Mac (in his mostly ‘home made’ wheelchair) and I were mooching around looking at what’s new, innovative, desirable and, of course, a pipe dream.  We were also lamenting most of what we really want isn’t yet invented.

There weren’t many other kids there – it was a school day afterall.  But one young girl and her parents made a bee line for us.

They wanted to know where we had got Mac’s spoke protectors from – they hadn’t seen any like that.  Mac had his aboriginal art covers on – made from wrapping paper and clear contact.  I explained how we made them to the Mum.

Then I spoke to Miss H (who had a neat little wheelchair with butterflies and flowers on her spoke protectors) and explained to her how she and her mum could easily change covers really regularly, she could think up great designs for different themed events  (yep,her mum was semi-glaring at me, slightly bemused and probably wishing they never introduced themselves).

I told her about Mac’s Xmas chair when he was “little” and how it had two reindeer on the front & flashing lights.  Mac was grinning at her and looking slightly ‘self-important’.

She checked a couple of facts – did the lights have batteries? how did the reindeer attach to the chair? and then “which reindeer where they?

Heh, I didn’t actually know which reindeer they were…

“We’ll have to ask Mac about that” I told her as I grabbed his yes/no switches.

“He’ll have to use his feet to answer yes & no”, I explained.

Mum:       Mac, Miss H wants to know which reindeer were on your chair – do you know?

Mac:          YES

Miss H:    Was one Comet?

Mac:           NO

Miss H:     What about Dasher?

Mac:            YES

Miss H:      Um, Dancer?

Mac:           NO

Miss H:     (with her Dad’s suggestion) Or Prancer?

Mac:           NO

Mum:        Oh, we forgot Rudolph? was the other one Rudolph?

Mac:          YES

Miss H:     Oh, so Dasher and Rudolph, huh cool.

It still amazes me what is important to kids.   I had NEVER considered what the names of those two toy reindeer were.  I also love the fact that had Mac not previously determined which reindeer they actually were he is able to just ‘makes stuff up’ like all kids do to suit the situation.

With that, we parted ways and Mac and I continued collating our mental wish list of equipment we may want/need/covet now and in the future.

I do look forward to the day Mac doesn’t need me to hold his foot switches, a day when he can be an independent communicator.

But, for now I enjoy that pretty much everyone accepts his method of communicating particularly when the conversation is natural and normal.  Sure I maneuver the convo around to get it in a format Mac can contribute, but then Miss H just naturally asked Yes/No questions without missing a beat.  It’s not that hard really.


Filed under things that make me go "glll"

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.


Filed under The 'mod' squad

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Macco!

A wheelchair drawn by reindeer in the hot, Australian summer… of course!

The exhibitionist child of ours shows just how proud he is as he arrives at school dressed for the Christmas festivities that day.  Apparently he LOVES having reindeer on his chair and he LOVES having lights on there too.

Mac is very proud to show off his Christmas wheelchair to friendsAnd how do you pull your look together…

the breakdown of items to “pimp my ride, Christmas style”

  • Two singing reindeer (hobby horse style)  bolted to the front of the chair.  When you press their antlers they sing and their nose flashes – I am sure the teachers were thrilled.
  • Coloured christmas lights for each wheel $2.99 per set.  These run on 2 x AA batteries and are easy to wrap around the wheel rims when you don’t need to self propel.
  • Santa Clause wheel covers made from one of those extra large gift bags purchased for $2 from one of the discount stores
  • Tinsel trim to ‘up the fancy’ on the wheel rims.
  • “model’s own Santa hat” 🙂
  • Oh, and there were some ‘elf style spats’ on his shoes made from the sleeves of an old green t-shirt and cut with jagged ends.

Then to be sure you completely disrupt the class for the entire day you take in your very large sound activated singing polar bear who channels Elvis with a bit of Tom Jones style dancing thrown in.  As it was an entire school “Doing Things Together Day” the bear was a huge hit with all the students as they rotated through his activity task area.

The chair will remain “pimped for Christmas” at Mac’s insistence.  He really is quite terrible, he just laps up the attention he gets everywhere he goes.


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