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July is Wheelchair Beautification Month - Some Smart & Fun Designs

Updated on May 27, 2016

Spiffy Decorated Wheelchairs Express The Rider's Uniqueness - a short history

We who are ambulatory express ourselves through our stance and through the way we walk - so too, with those individuals whose mobility is enhanced by the use of a wheelchair. Gone are the days when wheelchair riders must subsume themselves into the category of merely wheelchair bound, as if their ability to stand and walk is their prime definer.

Just like our shoes mean something to us, more than simply as foot protectors - users can personalize their wheelchairs, akin to ambulatory folks' trend to selecting shoes based not only on utility. We may want red soles for the prestige that comes with the brand of the shoemaker. We might choose heavy treads on work boots or hiking shoes - or we might buy our sport shoes simply for the color or flashy design, extending our sense of self to expression through our shoes.

Similarly, some of us find a sense of delight in the way we outfit our bikes - and that's commonplace in 2013. But since most of us don't have a family member, close friend or associate who uses a wheelchair for mobility, we may be surprised by the notion of decorating the wheeled device. I think that is because, so often, that which is different ignites a suspicion in us. We love to show our stuff, in our cubicles, homes, cars, in the ways we wear our hair.

Having some personal experience in an electric mobility scooter joined me to the great community of persons who can at first glance are defined by the fact that they are not able to walk, at least to walk any distance, or without pain. After many years I was able to set the scooter aside (my disability was caused by prescription meds which treated a side effect of chemotherapy.

Quickly I came face-to-face with the reality that I had become disabled. It set me apart, and I didn't have the good sense to run with it, however subtly, and style my scooter in some appropriate fashion that might indicate something of who I am. So, I was one of you readers who never thought about the idea of accessorizing a wheelchair.

Then I saw them - the creative individuals that took the attention off the lack of mobility, and put it on some object they choose, empowering themselves with silent expression, and giving those they encountered an easy topic of conversation. I came to view these alterations to the cold metal of the shoes with wheels, these softenings, as t only makes sense to express our individuality in wheelchairs too.

This article displays the work of some creative individuals, and more join their ranks every day. Horace Knowles' intimate knowledge of his wheelchair and his knack as an illustrator combined in his imagination to start the practice of celebrating wheelchair display, in Wheelchair Beautification Month.

Knowles first idea was to add blooming flowers to his wheelchair. It felt good to him to witness the smiles of those who noticed his flowers.

Presto! His idea took form, and today we have a month full of local and online wheelchair decoration contests and parades and celebration parties. image credit Bobbie Jean Peachy designed this illustration for the celebration of Wheelchair Beautification Month.

Personal Awareness of Wheelchair Decorations

Do you even notice decorated wheelchairs when you see them?

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Competition Exhibit


This individualist chair is ready to go. It's an entrant in the wheelchair decoration contest entitled Pimp my Ride. The Coffey Library has a great time sponsoring this celebration themed contest. photo from Coffey Library

Exhibits of Decorated Wheelchairs

What do you think of the idea of persons competing with their decorated wheelchairs?

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Melding the Centuries in Fancy Wheelchair


Comic book fans will swoon over this brilliant invention for popular comic book figure, Professor Charles Xavier. The rest of us will still find this chair magnificent. We'll all be swooning!

Daniel Valdez, artist, is a hot fan of comic book hero, Professor Charles Xavier. To that end he whipped up some wizardly contraption that blends the space age with Victorian artifacts! The resulting chair is the ultimate transport to replace the Professor's ordinary wheelchair, and he steampunked him as well.

photo by Smeeon

Make It The Way You Want


These decorated, or revamped, wheelchairs remind me of what my grandfather might have done, had he or grandma needed a wheelchair.

When Grandma injured her shoulder and neck from a fall down a 2-story flight of stairs in Seward, Alaska, back in the 1950s, Grandpa brought her home and built a do-hickey neck rest on her little-lady-sized frieze upholstered swivel chair.

It looked strange to have a 2X4 board bolted to the back of that nice chair, and then to have a piece of fabric wrapped around some old foam rubber, but Grandma was delighted, and didn't give a whit, whether it contrasted with her beautifully appointed home. She felt good and it made her smile, just as I smile to see these cleverly crafted wheelchair modifications. photo by Houston Marsh

Swift & Fancy Wheelchair Hubcaps

wheelchair art hubcaps
wheelchair art hubcaps

Confidence displayed in a big way here, with these printed and shaped vinyl wheelchair wheel coverups. Wheelchair Spoke Guards

How Do You View This Idea of Modifying the Standard Wheelchair?

Would you use an individualized wheelchair?

I wouldn't want anything else. Kudos to the blue pipe wheelchair designer!

I wouldn't want anything else. Kudos to the blue pipe wheelchair designer!

Submit a Comment

  • Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

    I definitely would. I adds personality.

  • Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

    If it helped, you betcha! Ease would be the word for the day.

  • lesliesinclair 4 years ago

    @Ibidii: It sounds like you creatively personalized your power chair. It would be nice if someone would trim the length of your flagpole so you could continue to use that too. Hope you find someone. Thanks for taking the time to share. Have a great day!

  • Ibidii 4 years ago

    My power wheelchair has a red cover on it to begin with that covers the battery and delicate parts under the seat. I covered the seat back with an older waterproof parka that is bright pink. Although the seat back and seat are waterproof, I did this any way. I had several bags that I would use to carry groceries and thigs hanging off the back. They were different colorful designs. My favorite was huge brown eyed Susan flowers. I had a friend make a flag holder d ring that was square to hold a flag. I made a flag from scratch and mounted it on a thick wooden dowel. I got broken one day. I finally bought an orange pennant flag mounted on a flexible fiberglass pole. That worked well until the bus company said it was too long so I had to remove it. That is about the extent of how I decorated my power wheel chair. :)

  • Darcie French 4 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

    I'd never thought of decorating a wheelchair - it's a brilliant idea!

I'd prefer a streamlined regular wheelchair. I'm just not the creative type.

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  • Kalafina 4 years ago

    I like to think I am the creative type but not when it comes to my wheelchair. I want people to remember my smile and the happiness I have in life and not the wheelchair I use.

Celebrations Incorporate Wheelchair

First Impression of Benny in the Video Above

What is your first impression of of Benny, before the video even starts?

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Beautified Wheelchairs in Motion

Accent Your Spokes

Glow Spokes Made with 3m Reflective Paint Fits Standard Bicycle Spokes
Glow Spokes Made with 3m Reflective Paint Fits Standard Bicycle Spokes

Use to create a little splash of night reflection light.


What Would You Do?

If you were, or are, using a wheelchair or similar mobility device, would you decorate it?

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Share Your Appreciation of Imaginative Rides

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    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I loved the videos, especially Benny. The Dalek was brilliant but looked very hot!

    • profile image

      myamya 4 years ago

      Awesome lens, great job! Squidlike

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What fun! Thanks for sharing! SquidAngel blessed! ;-)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      I love these ideas, especially the dalek.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Do you have a grant program to help buy a new chair?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Aha! I "hot-rodded" my wheelchair last year with help from an auto parts shop. Wrong month!!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Chris, that sounds super. Glad you got it done.

    • Katsorourke profile image

      Katsorourke 4 years ago

      wow love this lens

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 4 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      Wonderful, wonderful lens. Mobility scooters also could be decorated - I do see a few of those roaming around town :D

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      I just love how much joy and creativity there is on this page!

    • Kalafina profile image

      Kalafina 4 years ago

      I love this lens. Your humor and ideas can make a big difference for many people who are upset over having to use a wheelchair. I used to use one 24/7 and still need to whenever I go anywhere requiring lots of walking (I typically use a cane otherwise). I wrote a squidoo on 'how i travel looking wheelchair fabulous' to show how having to use a wheelchair does not mean the end of living your life. If decorating your wheelchair helps keep your passion and fire for living alive, then go for it all the way.

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      Haha! i love this lens. My man works at an apartment community for seniors. So he is always helping someone fix their wheelchair. He says they don't decorate them. When he settles down for dinner, i'll show him this lens. A few of his residents would enjoy decorated chairs i'm sure! (and if i had a chair, i wouldn't decorate because i'm the limelight type of person, but i sure would add those glow spokes!) :)

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @DawnRae64: Oh yes, those glowing spokes would be a safety feature, and cool, too.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      This is really a great way to add some humor and happiness to users of wheelchairs.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @smine27: Yes, it does seem to take the focus off some people's discomfort with others who use mobility aids.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I had no idea! Well shoot I would love to decorate a wheel chair with someone. Some spinning rims perhaps?

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @anonymous: Me too, I'd like to assist someone to decorate their wheelchair if they had the idea.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      I think it's a cheerful idea in a gloomy situation.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      I think it's a great idea! A contest would be fun too.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      This is a great lens, Papier! This is an empowering month for the differently-abled and I think it is a motivator for them since they often feel that they have lost all when bound to a wheelchair. Thanks for sharing.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @Heidi Vincent: Yes, for those who want to express themselves in a visual way it sure is a happy option.

    • profile image

      cwolfem 2 years ago

      Who doesn't love dressing up? I think this is brilliant and a great way to show off your personality. Benny and the Dalek are genius!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 2 years ago

      @cwolfem: Visuals can increase approachability because one never knows if a person with mobility assistance welcomes engagement with strangers.

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