kerb downFreedom Wheelchair Skills provides peer-led teaching of everyday skills and techniques to get the most out of life while using a wheelchair. The aim of Freedom Wheelchair Skills training is to help people become more confident in using a wheelchair, become less dependent on others and to show people how to overcome everyday environmental challenges. This is how it all began.

 

 

My name is Stuart Wheeler. I am the founder of Freedom Wheelchair Skills and this is my story. In 1993 I was a back seat passenger in a car when, unfortunately, the driver lost the road and crashed. I don’t recall the accident. I woke up from a coma a month later in The National Spinal Injuries Centre in Stoke Mandeville. I was 17, paralysed, and wheelchair-dependent. It felt like my life had to start again, learning how to look after myself, and basically live.

I first had a wheelchair skills lesson from a physio at Stoke when I was an inpatient. Being a boy, steps backdiscovering I could do a wheelie in my chair (the back wheel balance) was very appealing. I quickly learnt how to negotiate curbs, thresholds and uneven surfaces through practice and making a lot of mistakes.

In 1999 I got involved with a Spinal Injuries Charity called Back Up and went on a couple of activity courses with them. Back Up then asked me if I wanted to be involved with a peer-led Wheelchair Skills Training project they were starting. The aim was to learn how to teach people the skills they would need to use a wheelchair safely and to be more independent – I jumped at the chance.

slope down 3Through this project I began to teach wheelchair skills to newly injured people with Spinal Cord Injury, in Spinal Centres and on courses run by Back Up around the country. I have gained Accreditation in Wheelchair Skills training through this work with Back Up.

For over 12 years now I have taught people the fundamentals of using a wheelchair, which has encouraged them to lead more independent lives. Having been approached by wheelchair users with a range of disabilities in my community, and asked if I could teach them wheelchair skills, I came to realise there are many more wheelchair users in the country that don’t get the benefits of peer-led wheelchair skills training. This is the reason I set up Freedom Wheelchair Skills, to give anyone who needs to use a wheelchair the skills they need to be confident and independent in their mobility.

I can teach essential skills to most manual wheelchair users, including efficient pushing technique, enabling IMG_0167the user to push further for longer with less effort, safe turning and reversing, and negotiating camber and rough terrain. Depending upon an individual’s ability I can also teach advanced skills including negotiating kerbs, steps and confident back wheel balancing.

Further information about the services available can be found at www.freedomwheelchairskills.co.uk or I am happy to be contacted to discuss your needs further on 07482 151537 or e-mail stuart@freedomwheelchairskills.co.uk