Color & Control:

Ready, set, race…

Your wheelchair that is! 

By Natasha Way

Studies have shown that recreation can shape social behaviour, overall satisfaction and feature very positively in the lives of care home residents. Those who take part in activities confirm that they have more to look forward to, enjoy increased social interaction and report less loneliness. Not only do staff see reduced behaviour problems, confidence boosted and improved cognitive function but by inviting folks to lend a helping hand to organize events and help with set up and organizing chores they see improved physical strength and  positive energy. Activities vary but thing such as painting, karaoke, mahjong and writing help engage and interest people and allow them to  make use of their time and capabilities for recall and creativity.

Across the pond, a number of nursing and retirement home activity and aged care co-ordinators are introducing their patients to an activity program with a twist– afternoon wheelchair racing.   

Designed to promote both physical activity, stimulation, social interaction and team camaraderie, the racers are encouraged to go at their own pace and have fun participating in one or all of three different challenges:

1. Straight Race – simple dash from ‘a’ to ‘b’

2. Obstacle Race – harmless obstacles to make it around and add more excitement

3. Relay Race – teams can pass an imaginary or real object to each other to make it to the end of the race as a team

An eagerly anticipated resident activity that of course, has staff vetting participants and enforcing safety rules, wheelchair racing is said to bring a lot of enjoyment to both participants and the audience. Equipment and supplies necessary include additional wheelchairs for non-users, a safe location where enthusiasm and cheering will not disturb others, helmets and pads, start and finish line and harmless obstacles and batons for specialty races.

Before the activities begin, co-ordinators lead gentle warm-up sessions to loosen up the racer’s muscles and joints. Light stretching and breathing exercise are also recommended. Clear rules are explained to all and reiterated as needed with fun being emphasized over competition.  

When starting line-up is set and the countdown is on, it’s fun for everyone with lots of laughs, smiles and positive benefits. There maybe even a prize or two.

Natasha Way, Ahki Odayin, a two-spirit person of the Ojibwe People of Wikewemikong First Nations, and Bonnechere Mètis Nations of Ontario. They are an editing assistant, indigenous and disabilities rights advocate, community organizer and artist.

Engage and entertain

There are downloadable free activity resources at the in addition to a premium yearly paid subscription to all of their content and activities including sing a long’s, colouring books, dream catcher making, quizzes, and themed days.

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