The absolute coolest technology I saw while I was there belonged to a little girl, about ten years old, in a wheelchair. She was a double amputee and she had on two racing blade prosthetic legs for running (like Oscar Pistorius). (I think she was in a wheelchair because, while the blades are perfect for sprinting, I believe they are very difficult to walk in.) Style-wise, she had him beaten by miles though, because the sockets of her prosthetics were Hello Kitty-themed. Yes, that's right, Hello Kitty prosthetic legs for racing. I didn't take a picture because I didn't want to bother her, but rest assured that she was awesome. Her competitors on the track probably fall over in the starting blocks, hit by the forceful waves of little-girl-coolness coming off of her. I wonder if she will be eligible to qualify for the 2016 Olympics...Pistorius is breaking ground for kids like her this year.
My favorite pics:
For those of you who are concerned that your wheelchair doesn't match your chopper, I present this beauty, in black with neon green flames.
And for those of you concerned that your motorcycle and sidecar don't match your wheelchair and your electric guitar, "Colours Wheelchair" has got you covered.
This kid is trying to think of a way to ask his mom to buy him his very own iBot Wheelchair. Must...have...awesome...chair...please...mom...buy me one!
Craig Kennedy had lots of interesting things to say about adaptive recreation. First, he said that you can't do adaptive sports without "PVC pipe and duct tape." Totally true. Adaptive sports equipment is sometimes expensive, hand-engineered, and built by hand to high specifications. Even so, adapting that equipment to the particular size and shape of a person can still be a challenge--duct tape is the quickest way to jury-rig a solution for an individual. One quick example: a bi-skier with lots of arm strength but poor hand grip strength could have their hands in their mittens duct-taped onto their outriggers in a gripping position, so they don't have to struggle with a grip that they can't maintain by themselves.
Mr. Kennedy talked about some interesting things I hadn't heard of before, like adaptive wakeboarding and this wheelchair-accessible tent. The crowd at his talk was small, but I could feel that they were getting really enthusiastic about adaptive sports as he talked. When the talk ended, I had to sneak over to a young man sitting across from me named John to tell him about USARC's skiing program and summer program. He had never heard of it and he looked excited, so maybe I'll see him on the slopes next year! I'll leave you with my favorite quote from his talk:
Every sport out there has been adapted for people with disabilities. The last thing we will adapt will be people's attitudes-about what we can do, what we are capable of doing.
Images: 1. A snazzy chopper motorcycle with a manual wheelchair hooked onto the back of it. 2. A black motorcycle with orange flames has a sidecar containing a manual wheelchair with a leopard print seat. On the ground beside it is a matching electric guitar. 3. A little boy in a baseball cap is standing and staring up in awe at a man in an iBot, a wheelchair that raises up on two wheels. The man is leaning down and chatting to the boy's mother. A banner in the background reads: 'Go where you want to go...Do what you want to do.'