Tag Archives: wheelchair

todos com todos

everyone with everybody…

A fantastic documentary about the inclusion of children with disability in mainstream schools in São Paulo, Brazil.

While almost the entire doco was “quote worthy” I particularly like the simplicity of this translated statement by Samuel’s father…

 

“I don’t see any other model.

In the segregation model people with disability don’t learn their autonomy and people without don’t learn to deal with the difference”.
Samu’s Dad

 

This movie is part of the Why Heloisa Project www.porqueheloisa.com.br
I think I will be spending some time clicking around in that project/website in the coming days.


For our English language blind viewers I have requested an English translation… will post it here if I can get my hands on it.

todos com todos…

 

 

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Filed under Accessing the Curriculum, Inclusion... straight up!

why bother, indeed…

“Why would you even bother” her statement was more matter of fact than argument “he’s gonna get places quicker and have more fun if we’re pushing him in his chair”.

“Yeah, it wouldn’t be, like, easy, it’d be hard and you’d still need help” came another observation from one of the boys.

You see the question had been posed from a classmate:
“Will Mac ever be able to walk?”

Mac’s first response (with his switches) to that question was a swift “no”, and on further enquiry as to whether this “bothered him” another clear “no” response.

More comments, more discussion … the consensus was that, ultimately, “walking really isn’t all that important” the important thing was getting where you want with who you want (aka mobility).

If only more people would listen to the wisdom of 10 and 11 year olds.  How great for Mac to be involved in a discussion that ultimately determines that his way of existing is not only OK, it is totally authentic and not considered ‘less’.

Sure, there was some talk about Mac getting to drive his own wheelchair, what might be needed, how they can help that happen, what needs to be invented to make it better (of course robotics came up ;-) ) … but all that is about Mac being empowered, it’s not ‘dissing’ his current mode of mobility.

It is so refreshing to see these kids really think through what it is they are talking about, really think.

So much of our society can be quite superficial about these things, like walking is some amazingly necessary skill, or a prerequisite for a worthwhile life.

Mainstream media and social media got all excited about the opening ceremony of the Football World Cup having a paralysed man use an exoskeleton to walk and kick a ball – it was all a bit weird and ‘icky’ – I am glad Mac and his mates say “why bother?”

Sure, there may be some people out there who are unable to walk and really want to, I respect that.  I just don’t think we need to perpetuate a damaging message that walking is some sort of ‘Holy Grail’ for all people who use wheelchairs.

I don’t hate the technological advances that come of these ventures – who knows what may come of them?  We may finally end up building better wheelchairs where steps, gutters and raised thresholds soon become no obstacle.  Chairs might be able to become more compact, more comfortable and well, while you’re at it … could we perhaps make them ‘hover’?

In the meantime, I’ll continue to listen to the wisdom of kids.

As I was digging around for a suitable image to use in this post, I came across Red Nicholson’s post over at Attitude Live.

Red nails it – have a read.
http://attitudelive.com/blog/red-nicholson/opinion-why-obsession-walking

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Filed under Access all Areas, Inclusion... straight up!, Technology - things that help

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"

swim like you’ve never swum before …

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?

 

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

you know your commitment to inclusion has been worth it when…

Grafitti image of the words Inclusion Rocks.  yellow blue paint on a brown brick wall.

Today, on arriving at school I found out Mac’s aide would be arriving a bit late.  Mac also had a fill in teacher (but one who has been around the school a fair bit).

What I LOVE…
there was NO suggestion I needed to hang around until the aide arrived.

And better still…
when I offered to hang around they reconfirmed that it was ‘totally unnecessary’ so I happily went on my way.  Mac just settled in for roll call with the rest of the class while a couple of kids busied themselves setting up his gear ready to start work.

One of Mac’s IEP goals has always been ‘to become an independent learner with the long term goal of aide support needed only for personal care and not for meeting his education needs’.

It’s one of Mac’s more powerful IEP goals for a number of reasons:

  • It sends a message to Mac that he has a role to play in his own learning and removes the suggestion he “needs an aide” from his world.
  • It shows we have confidence in, and high expectations for, Mac.
  • It helps ensure the teacher takes greater responsibility for Mac’s learning.
  • It provides room for Mac’s peers to really learn how to work with, and advocate for, Mac in the absence of another adult (aide).
  • It allows the aide confidence to constantly strive to become redundant in their role or, at the very least, invisible in their role.
  • And it removes any possibility that threats around ‘withdrawing or reducing aide support’ can be used as a  power play by Principals or education departments.   If that is ever suggested you can simply say “fantastic, a step closer to our IEP goal, what a great opportunity!  What will we need to adjust in the classroom to allow this to work well for the teacher and students?”

A typical school day for Mac has a period of half an hour where where no aide is in the classroom.  During the lunch time period the aide was helping develop and facilitate more inclusive opportunities for Mac which has proven successful and has allowed her to now assist other students who actually need more help with the chaos of the playground instead.

So Mac is on his way in meeting that long term IEP goal… days like today only confirm this.

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‘pig smell’ and why it’s worth fighting for…

I was collecting Mac from the school excursion at the local zoo and was met by Mac and his mate K.

K:  “Mac smells like pig smell” he said in a manner that ‘implied’ I should consider this a good thing.

Cartoon image of a pink pig with flies buzzing around it to insinuate it's stinky.

Image courtesy of cartoon-clipart.com

I admit, I was a teeny bit worried.
Let’s face it – no one wants their kid to be known as “Smelly” or “Stinky Burns” or (deep breath in) “Pig Smell”.

Me:  “Oh, OK then – is that good?” I asked wincing just a tad.

K:   “Yeah! It’s awesome” he confirmed.  “Mac couldn’t reach the pig to pat him so I leant over the fence and patted him then wiped the pig smell on Mac’s hands and arms so he had some too”

Me:  “Yep, you’re right – that’s cool.”

So there you have it…pig patting by proxy, sharing pig smells & including your mate.
Yep, that’s what we fight for.

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the lost boys…

Mac finally had his 10th birthday party – some two months after the actual event.  We haven’t done a formal birthday party since kindergarten, so we figured it was about time and double digits is always call for celebration.

After much debate, the WHO, WHAT & WHEN was settled.

the who…

all the year four boys (28) in total with 20 coming out for the fun

the when…

dates were negotiated with others planning similar festivities around the same time

the what…

activities were discussed, plans hatched and invitations sent

screen grab of party invitation. text says: You're invited to Mac's Birthday party along with all the Grade 4 boys. Weather permitting we will light a “baby bonfire” at 5pm(ish), if grown-ups wish to come and stay for a sausage sandwich at 5pm & help look after your own kids around the fire that would be fantastic. No birthday presents required. If you want to put a gold coin in a treasure chest that we will put out, Mac can use that money towards something he wants/needs. Feel free to bring your bikes & helmets and be sure to wear your oldest clothes as we may head into the bush or go on a treasure hunt. RSVP info adds: As you can probably guess we aren’t so used to those fast moving, walking & talking variety kids, so anyone wishing to hang around & lend a hand is more than welcome. Also, while the kids have confidence in Mac’s ability to pass messages on to us, and it’s great if they let ‘him know’ they are coming, can you please make sure you let us know too ;-) Please let us know of any allergies

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

The party started with a bike ride.  Mac’s bike jogger was attached to Shawn’s bike, and off they went.  All but three of the kids had bikes so those guys took the iPad and filmed the ‘riders’.

shot of all 20 kids in the distance on a country road 17 on bikes and three running behind. Mac in his trailer on the back of the bike. more like bike specs in the distance than clear images.

A treasure hunt was next on the agenda.

We set up the treasure hunt so that Mac’s could have his iPad using Proloquo2Go (P2Go) speak the clue.  When the kids arrived at each location the clue envelope simply pointed them to the next colour clue Mac was required to give them.  What worked particularly well was that it didn’t matter how far ahead some kids got, they needed to wait for Mac and his push-buddies to arrive before they could move on.  We didn’t do teams it was an “all for one and one for all” type of event.

Here’s how it worked with P2Go, the clues and the audio (a bluetooth speaker made it loud enough for all to hear).

CLICK VIDEO TO RUN (FULL SCREEN AVAILABLE)

So, I wonder, would you have found your way?

With some daylight remaining before the bonfire lighting we decided to give the “paint bomb catapult” a go.  We had set up a water balloon catapult with the plan to pelt a 1m x 1m canvas with paint filled water balloons fired from the catapult.  It might have worked… if we had some better shots and some harder timber behind the canvas.  Instead, we reverted to 60ml syringes, paint tubes, cups and 20 kids (channeling Lord of the Flies on occasion) to decorate the canvas.

While Mac can’t do any of this physical stuff (until I build that switch adapted, self loading catapult) what he does get to enjoy is an amazing artwork, made by his mates, which will hang on his wall above his bed.

shot of the splatter artwork done by the kids. Lots of colour and splats of red smaller splats of green, purple, blue. To touch it would be fun there are some parts that sit almost 1 inch off the page.

The weather stayed fine and the wind didn’t pick up too much. So, the bonfire was lit, sparklers were had and bellies were fed.

one night shot of lots of kids with lit sparklers above their head, the other of the bonfire just starting to take off with kids sitting on a grassy knoll

We had an awesome day and were pleased to be able to give Mac a great party, but also thrilled to let all the kids enjoy the same sort of stuff I got to do as a kid growing up here on the farm.

So the next one isn’t needed until 16, right?

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Filed under friends, Inclusion... straight up!