Abilities Expo Extreme!
If you were hoping for a low-key trade show that would lull you peacefully to sleep, you may want to keep looking. On the other hand, if you want a high-energy expo that not only demonstrates “the extreme” but actually makes you a part of it, then pull out your calendar (or calendar app) and block out April 9-11, 2010.
Held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Abilities Expo helps attendees with disabilities take what they thought were their limitations and leave them in the dust. With the help of three extraordinary wheelchair athletes—Mark Wellman with his adaptive climbing wall, Aaron Fotheringham with his wheelchair stunts and Trevor Snowden with his wheelchair obstacle course—visitors will experience extreme sports and redefine their ideas about what they can accomplish.
Adaptive Climbing Wall
Picture 25 feet of artificial rock that can be scaled by anyone, regardless of their level of ability. All that is necessary is the desire to make the ascent up the climbing wall. Mark Wellman, expert mountaineer and founder of No Limits, will take care of the rest.
Wellman’s accomplishments don’t just speak for themselves, they shout from the mountaintop…that is, from El Capitan and Half Dome, when he became the first paraplegic to reach the most famous summits of Yosemite National Park. Wellman lives his no limits philosophy and has made it his life’s work to encourage others to venture beyond the limits they set for themselves.
According to Wellman, “Everyone faces the world with different abilities and disabilities, but we all have one goal in common...to break through our own barriers."
Wellman has developed innovative climbing techniques and sports gear adaptations which can be customized to each individual. As every disability presents it own unique challenges, he assess each person and determines how to configure the harnesses and pulley systems to get them out of their chair and climbing up the wall.
For attendees over the age of five with disabilities, Wellman feels that this extreme experience will be nothing short of magical. While designed to be perfectly safe, the climber, unencumbered by their usual mobility equipment, will feel exposed that far above the ground. That thrill will make reaching the summit even more triumphant.
Wheelchair Back Flip
This is “hardcore sitting,” a term coined by wheelchair stuntman Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, at its best. Born with spina bifida, Wheelz has been at this since he was eight when his BMX-riding brother encouraged him to ride his chair at a local skate park. “I did, and I was hooked,” recalled Wheelz.
At the age of 14, Wheelz perfected the stunt that would earn him a place in the annals of the Guinness Book of World Records…the wheelchair back flip. It is this feat that Abilities Expo attendees will witness on each day of the event.
In the beginning, the Wheelz biggest challenge was not gravity, it was his wheelchair. Unable to take the punishment, his wheelchair broke too soon and the insurance company declined to replace it. When it was clear that he needed something more durable, his friends raised the money to buy his first of many Colours Wheelchairs. Not long after that, the company got wind of the Wheelz’ adventures and have sponsored him ever since.
The Colours chair that will help him complete the 360 degree flip at Abilities Expo was custom-built to be as extreme as Wheelz himself.
And, folks, if you must try this at home, remember one of Wheelz’ mantras…”Don’t be an idiot.” Wear a helmet and don’t attempt tricks you are not ready to master. All of Wheelz’ awe-inspiring exploits are first perfected on cushions, then on a rezi—a hard plastic sheet over cushions—before astounding audiences on a regular skateboard ramp.
Wheelchair Super X Fun Course
Just how good are you on wheels? Find out on this very cool wheelchair obstacle course presented by professional snowboarder Trevor Snowden. You can navigate the twists, turns and bumps in the track using your own chair, or you test drive one of Snowden’s Trevair Chairs with Electric Scooters.
Since his 1997 snowboarding accident, Snowden has dedicated himself to developing a new line of wheelchairs, ones that would match his extreme lifestyle. The Trevair Chairs are designed for active wheelchair users with more suspension to reduce the shock and strain to your back. According to Snowden, "It's like driving a Suzuki Samurai versus a Cadillac."
The Super X Fun Course is open to all attendees regardless of the level of ability. It’s up to you…take the course nice and easy, or take it to the extreme!
Product Spotlight: FreeWheelTM Wheelchair Attachment
FreeWheelTM Wheelchair Attachment will exhibit at the Los Angeles and New York Metro Abilities Expos on April 9-11 and May 21-23, 2010, respectively.
With the right equipment, challenging terrain doesn’t have to be an obstacle. Both simple and ingenious, the FreeWheelTM Wheelchair Attachment allows wheelchair users to traverse surfaces that would normally be impossible.
A single wheel that easily clamps onto the footrest of almost any wheelchair, the design literally lifts the front casters off the ground and allows an individual greater stability in negotiating curbs, grass, snow, rough roads, uneven ground and more.
This adaptive device was the brainchild of Pat Dougherty, a C6-7 quad from Boise, Idaho who was injured in a Motorcross accident in 2003. “I was frustrated at how difficult it was to get around,” said Dougherty, proving once again that necessity is the mother of invention. “I knew there had to be a better way.”
Lightweight and durable, the FreeWheelTM has helped people all over the world blaze new trails and gain greater independence. When not in use, the apparatus can be easily stored on the back of the wheelchair.
According to Eddie from Winnetka, California, the FreeWheelTM “has changed my life drastically. I am able to run with my dog without any fear of flipping out of my chair. It pretty much glides over any surface and just feels so stable.”
His sentiments were echoed by Lacey Heward, 2-time metal winner in skiing in the 2002 Paralympics. “It just totally opens up a whole new avenue for me,” she said. “I’m grateful!”
“My vision is to get these things in everybody’s hands that needs them and watch them live,” mused Dougherty.
To see video of how the FreeWheelTM performs over various terrains, visit www.gofreewheel.com.
If you or a member of your household uses wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, standing frames, etc., we need your opinions.
Mobility Management, an industry publication for mobility professionals including occupational and physical therapists, is taking a survey of consumers who use mobility-related assistive technology. Your answers can help the health-care industry to better understand and respond to your concerns, needs and wishes. It’s your right to be heard!
The survey should take just a few minutes to complete, but your opinions can help to shape the future of assistive technology. Speak up, speak out…and watch what can happen!
Anthony is a Los Angeles Abilities Expo Ambassador, an entrepreneur and the owner of Wheelie Distribution.
Hello, my name is Anthony and I am a T4, T5, T6 paraplegic due to a motorcycle accident 16 years ago. I learned many tricks from other people with spinal cord injuries throughout the years. I would like to share one with you that has made a huge difference in my life.
I fought urinary tract infections (UTIs) all the time. I was using sterile catheters and taking cranberry pills. About five years ago at a spinal cord meeting, a quadriplegic shared with us a product that he found that made his life of battling UTIs a thing of the past. It was a natural sugar that is extracted from cranberries and pineapples, a product is called D-mannose.
I bought a bottle of the sugar and have been using it daily since. When I feel a little infection starting, I take one scoop of D-mannose with water and within 20 minutes I usually start feeling better. I take one scoop of D-mannose every three to four hours until I feel that I’ve gotten rid of the infection. If your symptoms are not better within 48 hours of aggressively taking this remedy, you need to see your doctor.
I have seen hundreds of people benefit from this product. In fact, I know doctors that are recommending it for their patients and having excellent results. They now carry it in tablet form which makes it even more convenient to bring everywhere I go. This sugar will only work on E. coli bacteria, which doctors say is responsible for about 80-90% of UTIs.
D-mannose is also referenced as a method of preventing these infections in the new Paralysis Resource Guide (page 62) from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center. If you have any questions or need more information, visit www.WheelieDistribution.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: Absolutely! While it is true that people depend on Abilities Expo for solutions through the latest technologies, products, services and resources, they have also come to expect more. They want to gain more knowledge and insights about pressing disability issues, they want to get involved, they want try new things and they want to have a little fun. Abilities Expo delivers on all counts through a host of events, activities and workshops right on the show floor! Here’s what’s on tap for LA:
Events & Activities:
- Adaptive Sports:
Power soccer, tennis, billiards and table tennis. Sit back and enjoy the demos or try it out for yourself. You make the call!
- Adaptive Climbing Wall:
Presented by No Limits, rock climbing is not just for TABs anymore. Thanks to specially-designed adaptive gear, most attendees can experience the independence and triumph that comes from scaling a 25 foot wall.
- Technology Showcase:
From low-tech to high-tech, find out what the latest products can do for you. Includes assistive technology, neurotechnology and even everyday items right off the shelf.
- Assistance Dogs:
Meet several assistance dogs and watch them demonstrate their work with their human partners. You can even pair up a clever canine and lean a few basic commands.
- Wheelchair Review:
Manual and power wheelchair review events will feature the chairs on exhibit at the Expo with all of the bells and whistles. You’ll also learn tips for getting the mobility device the best meets your needs.
The dancers of the Colours ‘n Motion Dance Team will showcase their talents and teach attendees some fun hip hop moves.
- Wheelchair stunts:
Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham will perform his back flip each day!
- Ms. Wheelchair California
will be crowned!
They’re dynamic, they’re informative and….they’re free. No need to register. Just arrive early, claim your seat and get the lowdown on:
- Home Modifications: Keep it Simple and Straightforward
- How to Choose a Vehicle
- Our Future at Stake: Understanding Proposed Legislation and How it May Affect You
- Travel Tips
- Disability & The Art of Kissing with author Gary Karp
- Exercise for Anyone with a Disability presented by NCPAD
- Ask the Expert
- And much more!
If you are a healthcare professional, don’t miss hard-hitting sessions from speakers working in emerging therapies and technologies. Topics include Pediatric Seating and Positioning, Intensive Physical Therapy, Neurotechnology and Physical Fitness.
“We live in a hearing world, where deaf people have to operate within that hearing world,” said Sheri Christianson, PepsiCo employee. “In this ad, what we've done is kind of reverse the roles. It's a deaf world and we've included the hearing world.”
In its Superbowl Sunday broadcast debut, “Bob’s House” capitalizes on a popular joke within the deaf community. It depicts two deaf men on their way to a Superbowl party who drive up to a dark street only to realize they have no idea which is the right house. Their solution is to lay on the horn as drive slowly down the street. The house that does not light up belongs to their friend, Bob, who is also deaf. (View the commercial.)
“Bob’s House” gives hearing individuals a brief sideline view into the experience of deaf people. The commercial is completely silent. Hearing viewers can see the driver honk the horn, the dog bark and the houses light up and, for the purposes of inclusion, they can read subtitles to understand the sign language exchange.
This commercial was created and performed by EnAble, a network within PepsiCo which supports diversity and ensures that the company continually strives to connect to people with different abilities in all facets of business—including its employees, consumers, partners and suppliers.
According to PepsiCo employee and “Bob’s House” actor Clay Broussard, “We want to do performance with purpose. We have all kinds of people in the community that we want to reach out to.” EnAble recognizes that there are 54 million Americans with disabilities and that this community, which includes family and friends, is one of the most formidable minorities in the country.
Could this pioneering effort mark a profound shift in advertising culture? “You never know,” said Brian Dowling, another PepsiCo employee and “Bob’s House” actor. “Maybe they'll be more deaf commercials.”
We hope so.