Our friends at Spinal Cord Injury Alberta are encouraging leaders in our community to spend the day in a wheelchair during the week of May 25-29. Chair Leaders Enabling Access was developed in Nova Scotia several years ago and has grown into a national event.
“We are hoping to make it as big here as it is in other communities,” said Stephanie Myrick, Regional Program Coordinator, Spinal Cord Injury Alberta.
Designed to raise awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by mobility challenged citizens, the event has volunteers spend an entire day in a wheelchair abiding by the following set of rules:
1. Do not get out of your chair to walk or reach for things. Remember, you are supposed to be paralyzed.
2. Do not use your feet to stop or slow down. Not only would this be impossible if you actually had a spinal cord injury (SCI), it’s very dangerous and can result in broken feet or ankles, or propel you out of the chair altogether.
3. Driving is fine, but you must transfer from the wheelchair to the driver’s seat and back again.
4. When you go out into the community you must have someone with you. If you get stuck crossing the street, or have trouble on a ramp it can be very dangerous if you don’t have someone waiting to help you.
5. Try to be as independent as possible, but don’t be afraid to ask for help.
6. Transferring to chairs, couches, etc. is fine, but to walk you must be in the chair.
“We would love to have volunteers film themselves with a GoPro camera or have someone film them while they spend the day in a wheelchair,” said Myrick. “Hopefully they decide to try some of our challenges, too.”
Some suggested activities to try include going to a restaurant for a meal, getting a coffee at a local coffee shop, going grocery shopping, or playing a sport.
If you’re interested in volunteering to spend a day in a wheelchair, contact Stephanie at 587-645-0771, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.