Wheelchair life is eye opener

Published: May 14, 2007  |  Source: bucksherald.co.uk

th1_155200721high20pupils20in20wheelchairsTWO girls from Aylesbury High School spent 24 hours in a wheelchair as part of an experiment to raise awareness of what it is like to live with a spinal cord injury.Alys and Megan Cook were the first to try a pilot project for the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NISC) at Stoke Mandeville Hospital which it is hoped will be repeated in other schools and businesses.

The two sisters, aged 15 and 16, got into their wheelchairs at the NISC and returned to their school for the remainder of the lunch break and afternoon lessons before going home.

On the Saturday morning both girls attended their Aylesbury Music Centre lessons and then explored the town centre before going for lunch in a local restaurant.

During the experiment, the girls had to sleep downstairs in their house and wheeled themselves to and from the shops in the village of Wendover where they live.

Alice Cook, 16, said: “It was interesting to find out how hard it is to do the simple things like going to the loo.

“It is hard when you can’t move your legs,” she added.

“We found in the modern buildings that access was very good such as the cinema in Aylesbury. But older shops such as the one in Wendover High Street were a bit of a challenge,” she said.

“It has made me appreciate general politeness as I really appreciated it when people held open doors for me.”

Megan, 15, said: “I found out how hard it was to do the little things. It was impossible to play my harp while in a wheelchair.

“It has helped me get a better understanding of the situation and appreciate the challenges people in a wheelchair face.”

Dr Roger Bodley, head of the wheelchair experiment said: “It was an extremely successful 24 hours. I think it showed the girls the challenges that people in a wheelchair face.

“Often a large amount of effort is needed for very little in return.
“You have to think ahead about everything you do, even a slight gap between two levels of flooring can become a big problem,” he added.

The girls filmed their experiences in a wheelchair on videocamera and the footage will be shown soon on The Bucks Herald’s digital video news service, BHTV.