Group Shot of Seniors in Festive Wheelchairs

Jazzed-Up Wheelchairs Wow as Seniors Strut Their Stuff

Seniors Decorate Wheelchairs to Celebrate

Did you know that July was National Wheelchair Beautification Month? We didn’t until we saw this story about some Brooklyn seniors who made the most of it—and had a blast doing it!

These days it seems that every month has one or more themes, some of which are serious, like Breast Cancer Awareness, and some of which have a sense of whimsy. Some actually combine whimsy with a message, as does July, which is dubbed National Wheelchair Beautification Month. While the theme may have yet to go viral, so to speak, it still has a cheerful message that should spark creativity in both young and old wheelers.

Wheelchair riders across the country who are familiar with the event celebrated in grand style. In the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, senior citizens at the Shore Hill Neighborhood Center got into the theme full-bore, even holding a special wheelchair parade on July 16, where their delightfully decorated wheelchairs and walkers were put on display for all in the neighborhood to see.

The parade made its way up the street outside the Shore Road center, with Goldie Sohn, who is 102 years young, leading the way in her decked-out chair. Prizes were given to seven residents whose equipment was voted “best decorated.” These seniors received gift certificates to the Pilo Arts Salon and Spa, and they were given water bottles.

Wheelchair Beautification Month was the brainchild of Horace Knowles, an illustrator who uses a wheelchair. Knowles created the idea when he attached a florist’s water tube and flowers to his chair to appear more festive. The monthly celebration has been going on at the Shore Neighborhood Center every year for the past nine years.

Lutheran HealthCare, which operates the Lutheran Medical Center and the Shore Hill apartments, is the sponsor of the annual event, just one of other services and activities they provide, such as dancing lessons, computer classes, tai chi and yoga, and painting. Ursula Clarke, the event’s coordinator, said of the festivities, “This event is important to celebrate because the wheelchair has allowed seniors to be more mobile than they have in the past.”

Events like this are fun and important, because they bring into public view the idea that just because a person has a disability or limited mobility, it doesn’t mean they can’t “rock” their wheelchair—and the world. We are seeing more efforts to create wheelchairs and mobility devices that are stylish as well as functional, but it’s amazing to see people take the beautification of their personal transportation into their own hands.

Let’s hope events like National Wheelchair Beautification Month will catch on and become more nationally and internationally recognized, reminding people that fun and creativity are not exclusive to the able-bodied community. Besides, everyone loves a parade! The short video shows you the ingenuity and playfulness of seniors when given the opportunity.

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle

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