Tag Archives: A Day In a Wheelchair

Just Say No to Curbs

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Nothing goes together worse than curbs and wheelchairs. Well maybe square wheels and wheelchairs, but that’s another blog post entirely. The thing about curbs – they’re everywhere.

They’re a beacon of modern-day society, keeping pedestrians and vehicles safe from one another, but they weren’t exactly created with people in wheelchairs in mind. Some wheelchairs, or rather wheelchair-users, can do a bang up job of popping curbs, but for most wheelchair-users, curbs are as limiting as a 2 foot thick steel door.

There are however several tricks wheelchair-users can learn to no longer let curbs hold them back. Some may be tricky, but they all work. Check out our curb-traversing videos below.

Video #1: Wheelchair up and down curb

Our first video comes from Gaby Bonano, a paraplegic who’s new at putting his hat into the “how-to” disability video world. One of the first videos he made is all about wheelchairs and curbs, and how wheelchairs can overcome them if no curb-cut is around. This how-to is definitely for people with full upper-body control.

Gaby first shows how he gets down a curb, which is the easier trick of the two. The trick for getting down a curb is about mastering the wheelie, and being able to balance yourself as you drop down the curb. It definitely takes some finesse, and of course Gaby makes it look easy.

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He has a stunt double demonstrate the up-curb method because if he wipes out and lands on his back, it can injure his severe scoliosis. This method heavily relies on momentum and getting a head start, then popping a wheelie right before you hit the curb (it is only ideal for cubs 7″ or shorter). Watch his curb-climbing methods

Video #2: Wheelchair Child Rides Her New Trackchair Over the Curb

Our second video shows the beautiful things that can happen when people with kind hearts and a little bit of extra money come together. It shows a young girl receiving her first ever Trackchair, a wheelchair on tank tracks that allows the user to go wherever they want. But the kicker – it’s quite expensive; upwards of $6,000.

In this video, a mysterious stranger donated $5,700 to procure this amazing wheelchair for a young girl with cerebral palsy, and boy is the smile on her face worth watching. You get to watch as she is shown how to drive the Trackchair, and boy does she look happy when she goes over a curb her first time (I want one goshdarnit!). Watch her try out the Trackchair

Video #3: Paraplegic in a Wheelchair Ascends a High Curb

If you live in an older city, there are sometimes going to be curbs you encounter that are archaically high; I’m talking 8 inches or higher.  When dealing with curbs this tall, you have to use a different method vs. the gaining momentum and popping a wheelie method.

Erik Kondo, a paraplegic from Boston, has your best option – the Railing Side Control Method – where he uses anything from a parking meter pole to a bike rack to grab onto and pulls himself up a curb. He’ll even grab onto a small tree if nothing else is available. This method is definitely for the buff wheelchair-users of the world. Watch Erik’s steep curb-climbing video

There are a lot of things in life that limit us as wheelchair-users. It’s nice to know those pesky curbs can be out-smarted, even out-muscled with the right technique or wheelchair. Just remember to be safe. The last thing you want to deal with is an egg on your head and a bruised ego while trying to get somewhere.

What tricks do you use for climbing curbs?

Watch the videos

Gaby shows his tricks for getting his wheelchair up and down a curb

Wheelchair Child Rides Her New Trackchair Over the Curb

Erik shows how to ascend a very high curb

SCI Superstar: Kristin Duquette

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Long before American Paralympian Kristin Duquette became disabled, when she was 6 years old she had a dream – to one day become an Olympic swimmer. Growing up near the ocean in East Hartford, Connecticut, Kristin loved to swim, but her dream was in danger when she was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at age 9.

Kristin however refused to look at her diagnosis as the nail in the coffin to her swimming career. Despite doctors telling her to not swim to preserve her muscle strength (she was diagnosed with a form of Muscular Dystrophy that is progressive), she went back into swimming and shocked everyone by showing it’s possible you can get a stronger through training even with progressive muscular dystrophy.

Read on for Kristin’s awesome story of perseverance, athleticism and her new passion that was ignited while studying at Trinity college – her commitment to making disability rights a true human rights issue.

Why she’s fearless

When you’re diagnosed with a severe disability like Kristin was, it can challenge your entire world view. Kristin however has taken her disability in stride and has committed herself to staying involved in what she loves the most – swimming – as well as utilizing her college degree to help many people with disabilities as possible.

It was in her teens when she racked up all of her impressive wins at adapted swimming – she’s a 5x American Paralympic Record Holder, the former US Team Captain for the 2010 Greek Open and 3x Junior National Record Holder in swimming. And while she didn’t achieve her goal of making the U.S. swim team in the 2012 London Paralympics, she’s committed to having another shot at the Paralympics in Rio De Janeiro.

Kristin is also a ’13 grad of Trinity College, and she received a BA in Human Rights. While studying here, Kristin created a very cool event called, “A Day In a Wheelchair,” where they try to recruit as many able bodied people as possible to take part, spending 12 straight hours in a wheelchair (oooh hard!).

A lot of people love this event. 2013 was their most successful yet, with even the president of their college taking part. The purpose of the event btw – so people understand our plight. Her event has become such a hit that the Clinton Global Initiative in St. Louis had Kristin come out last April to host their very own “A Day in a Wheelchair” event. Watch Trinity’s 2013 “A Day In a Wheelchair”

What’s next?

After graduating, Kristin snagged one of the coolest internships ever for anyone with a disability, working with the American Association of People with Disabilities, an organization that helps people here with disabilities and not only in the United States but in the rest of the world. Her internship took place in Washington, DC, allowing her to take part in other exciting events randomly, such as human rights protests.

And just last fall, Kristin, who’s also a blogger for The Huffington Post, was asked to travel to South Africa on behalf of the Academic Council on the United Nations System. She asked a question to Kofi Annan on about economic differences and unemployment for people with disabilities. She of course blogged for The Huffington Post while she was there too.

At only 22 years old, Kristin is unstoppable. A concert violinist and a surfer, she’s also one of the newest board members for the Ryan Martin Foundation and is a speaker with a growing fan base, scheduled to speak at the Young Healthy Athletes Conference in 2014.

Kristin may not have made the London Paralympic team in 2012, but who cares. Now focusing on open swims and triathlons, it’s all about the future baby. And while she doesn’t know what the future holds for her when it comes to her disability, Kristin has perfected the art of making the most of what she has, and that is something that makes her a true superstar.

Visit her site: KristinDuquette.com

How have you helped the plight of people with disabilities since becoming disabled? What have you learned from Kristin Duquette? 

Watch the videos!

Kristin Duquette receives Connecticut MDA 2010 Personal Achievement Award

Kristin Duquette talks about living with Muscular Dystrophy, FSHD

Ablevision interviews Paralympic Hopeful Kristin Duquette

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