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  • Writer's pictureVaidehi Pant

A Day in Wheels: Insights from a Temporary Wheelchair Experience

Everything mentioned in this piece is purely based on my experience and does not reflect the possible reality of persons who use a wheelchair regularly. I also mean no offense to anyone through this piece. 

Imagine: you walk (or rather, roll) into school, and all eyes are on you. Whispering, giggling, waving, questioning. All they see is a confused girl in a huge, black chair and a busted knee. All day, you either have to move around by yourself, or ask a friend to come and maneuver you (which, trust me, is a very unpleasant and unreliable decision). It’s impossible for you to stand up, walk, run around, or even use the toilet, all because you’re bound to a chair with wheels. 

I found myself injured and unable to stand on a working Friday, hence the need to use a wheelchair for an entire day! Here are the joys and perils of using one, as well as what I enjoyed about my experience and what I didn’t. 

Moving around and through cramped hallways, corridors, and classrooms was quite the tedious exercise. Me and my peers worked hard shuffling bags and chairs, knocking over tables and causing a commotion to get me through. For me, being in a wheelchair shackled me and my freedom and prevented me from moving freely.  

Also, being slumped in my wheelchair didn’t allow me to participate in activities that involved dance, standing up in class and extracurriculars. Sometimes, these activities hold great meaning and aid us in further understanding a topic, so not being able to do anything much in these activities might lead to not having a proper sense of the subject, and may restrict our learning to just sitting, reading and listening.

That being said, being forced to sit in a wheelchair has a good side as well! Students have to assist their peers in moving from one place to another, whilst being careful of their surroundings, as well as the person in the chair. This fosters a sense of care and understanding amongst friends. Furthermore, I interacted with many students who asked me about my experience and how I was feeling about it, which encouraged them all to empathize about how life would be as a person who uses a wheelchair, and what they can do to help. Besides, it even got me a free lift pass :) and I didn’t have to perilously climb stairs every ten minutes!

Overall, I had a mixed experience in a wheelchair. As fun and enjoyable the first few hours were, I felt that it impacted my freedom of movement and the places I could go to in school, freely and without assistance, such as different class venues, the cafeteria or even the toilet! It also was hard to sit still and watch my friends run around and participate in different activities. I think that to make the school experience even better for students who use wheelchairs, institutions should try to include activities and programs in the curriculum that are inclusive to everyone, so that nobody’s learning is affected.

But, you know what has gotten affected, after my adventurous day? My trust in my friends! If you give them your wheelchair to control, there is absolutely nothing they wouldn’t try and experiment with, even if it means getting hurt all over again!

Written by Vaidehi Pant

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