Does a “day in a wheelchair" work?Nov 10 02:19
While I love the fact that its become popular for companies and non-profits to organize “Day in a Wheelchair” events, that are designed to promote disability awareness among the able-bodied population, I’ve been starting to wonder if they do much good. A day is certainly not long enough to understand my plight (if that’s your end-goal). A “Month in a Wheelchair” is more like it. But who would want to do that?
Other than Morgan Spurlock and a few badass souls in this world, not many. My friend A.J. Bray found such a badass in her husband, Cheyn. A.J. has cerebral palsy and is a manual wheelchair-user and Cheyn is currently doing a month stint as a wheelchair-user so he can better understand what his wife goes through. How romantic is that? I love this couple. You can bet this experience will bring them more close together.
A month is about the shortest amount of time you can experience a different existence and still get a glimpse of some true understanding, hence the TV reality show, 30 Days. This awesome show puts the host Morgan Spurlock in a crazy situation for 30 days in each episode, from living with a Muslim family for a month to locking himself in a prison for a month. His movie Supersize Me followed the same 30 day format, where he only ate McDonald’s to see how it affected his body. 30 days is a must see.
So what would one discover if they used a wheelchair for a month? They’d see just how long everything took, they’d see how hard it is to reach things (whether up high or on the floor), how weird it is to be gawked at, how limiting certain buildings can be….the list goes on and on. Spurlock’s show actually covered wheelchair life (check out the episode here). The episode is also on Netflix Watch Now, btw.
While a day is a good effort, it’s too fleeting, and in my opinion, just doesn’t stick.
But then again...is it better than nothing?
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1. Shark7 | Nov 12 07:26
Great question! For the most part I think "day in a wheelchair" is a "feel good" joke that *may* have people joining the ranks of the "I hurt my ankle once and had to spend a month in one of those, so I know exactly what you're going through..." comments. The exception being training people about public access--I think wheeling up to a bunch of steps, or other inaccessible areas can be powerful. After all--I think most people with SCI would say that "walking" is pretty far down the list of things they would like to change.
2. seeandbesafe.co | Nov 22 06:12
A day in a wheelchair would be enough if it included catheterizing, bowel management, autonomic dysreflexia and muscle spasms. Without those things the subject becomes an actor and the wheelchair a prop.
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.