“Wheelchair training helps both the children and their parents extend their boundaries.”
In addition to my skiing career, there are a number of other projects to which I dedicate much of my time and attention, because I think we can make such a difference. After skiing, what I enjoy doing most is wheelchair skills. If you rely on your wheelchair every day, it’s important to know how to master it. This skill determines how independent you are, and how free you can feel.
Adults who end up in a wheelchair later in life
Every day I see that many adults who end up in wheelchairs get very little instruction and training to achieve real independence. This is necessary to be able to get up pavements and manoeuvre through traffic safely. If you want to be able to go anywhere and live freely in your wheelchair, then steps, escalators and ramps are an absolute must to master. I believe that everybody with good hand/arm functionality could learn these skills. Just like these adults learnt to ride a bike at an early age.
Often, people learn a lot during the first few classes and get excited. They’re then encouraged to practice on their own at home. During the 2nd class, they learn how to balance (make wheelies; stand and roll on the rear wheels). After that, progress is fast, and in a few weeks, participants can even tackle longer sets of steps with railings in their wheelchair.
Wheelchair training for kids
There are also lots of children all over the world who rely on their wheelchair. This group can gain so much from a wheelchair-skills training programme. As they master their wheelchair, they increase their independence and this, in turn, significantly boosts their self-confidence. Children feel more at ease when playing with other kids and, because they can do more by themselves, parents also become more relaxed.
Grow self-confidence and talent
Sometimes, it seems like children aren’t even aware of the talents they have. Because everything has always been done for them. They’ve been unable to develop in the same way their able-bodied peers have. From the moment children start the training sessions, they suddenly notice how quickly they can learn things, and how much freedom and independence this brings them. I often see children getting happier and happier with every class. The energy from these kids motivates me to carry on with what I’m doing in my life!
The right wheelchair
Not all children in wheelchairs have full hand/arm functionality. During the classes, we always work to get the most out of the child’s abilities. With some children, this may take longer, or some modifications to their wheelchair may be necessary. In the end, the self-confidence the children gain from these classes influences their entire future. The freedom and independence are a basis that will enable them to get the absolute maximum out of what life has to offer!