You can raise kind kids who include others! It all starts with the conversations you have at home. I'll be here every Monday for the rest of the summer to give you everything you need to have a conversation with your kids about a topic within the broader topic of disability. Last week, we talked about introducing differences to your kids. If you missed it, you can get that discussion guide here. This week, we'll be talking about mobility devices!
Big idea- Some kids use mobility devices to help them get around.
Most people get around by walking with just their legs, but lots of people use special devices to help them get from place to place. These devices include (but aren’t limited to) wheelchairs (both motorized and manual), crutches, canes, walkers, gait trainers, and more! Many kids and adults assume that using a wheelchair or other mobility device is a sad thing, but it’s actually the opposite! Wheelchairs and mobility devices make it easier for people to get where they want to go. Without them, many people would not be able to go out to the park, school, store, or even to different rooms in their home. Mobility devices give many people independence and opportunities to go places and do things they otherwise would not be able to! Mobility devices are awesome!
When children see another child using a mobility device, they might wrongly assume that that child will not be able to play with them. But this is not the case! When play spaces are accessible, most children who use mobility devices can play with other children! Just like everyone, kids who use mobility devices want to be included! So encourage your child to initiate friendship when they have the opportunity!
When Charley Met Emma by Amy Webb- Truth be told, this is my favorite inclusive children’s book. It’s just so good! It tells about a non-disabled boy befriending a girl who uses a wheelchair at the playground. You can purchase this book here OR you can watch the read aloud version on YouTube here. (Awesomely Emma is the sequel to this one and is also so so good!)
Image Bearer by Ellie Sanazaro- This book will introduce your children to wheelchairs, crutches, and standers. You can purchase this book here.
What are some different ways people get around? (walking, running, cars, planes, bikes, wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, etc.)
Why might someone use a mobility device? (Either they cannot walk independently OR walking independently is difficult for them. This might be because of muscle weakness. This might be because of a limb difference. This might be because of difficulty controlling movements or balancing. This might be because someone is paralyzed and cannot move their legs. This might be because someone is still learning how to walk independently. This might be because someone is recovering from an injury, illness, or surgery. There are many different reasons people might use a mobility device.)
How do you think kids who use mobility devices are similar to you? (They like to play. They like to watch TV. They like to listen to music. They want to be a friend.)
What are some ways you can play with/include someone who uses a mobility device on the playground? At school? In your neighborhood? (This is a great time to talk about how you can work together to find a way to play together. It might mean going to a different part of the playground or being patient as your friend who uses a mobility device moves from place to place at a slower pace than you’re used to.)
Instagram Accounts to Follow:
@spinabifida_adventurer- Charlie is a 4 year-old boy who has spina bifida. He inspired an illustration in “Image Bearer” He uses a wheelchair to get around most of the time. He also uses leg braces sometimes.
@mighty_miriam- Miriam is a 5 year old girl who has cerebral palsy. She uses ankle braces, wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers to get around. She inspired an illustration in “Image Bearer.”
@_rileyandmommy- Riley is a 3 year old girl who has spina bifida. She uses ankle braces, wheelchairs, and crutches to get around.
@thefoutzfamily- Elisha is a young man who experienced a traumatic brain injury as a child. He uses a wheelchair to get around and a tilt table to stand.
@wheel.life.in.the.wheel.world- Alyssa is a woman who experienced a spinal cord injury at birth and, as a result, uses a wheelchair and a trach/ventilator. She just gave birth to her first baby this year.