July Is Wheelchair Beautification Month - Some Smart & Fun Designs
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?
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?
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.
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
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?