Kristine Newbold, who has been in a wheelchair since the age of 5 due to a brittle bone disease, challenged able-bodied people to raise awareness about some difficulties people in wheelchairs face when she hosted her first wheelchair rodeo event over the weekend at Woodruff Park in Columbus.
Newbold asked participants to ride a wheelchair without having their feet touch the ground. The participants had to avoid barriers while carrying a glass of water; experience the hardship of moving wheelchairs on a lawn; and wheel uphill on a ramp.
Rodney Worthen, co-host of the event and founder of Life on Wheels Inc., said the goal was to give people a better idea about life in a wheelchair and the difficulties behind the lifestyle.
“I am exhausted. I’ve been only doing this for 10 minutes,” said Jenni Ivers, a participant who traveled from Atlanta. She learned that it takes a lot of upper-body strength for people in wheelchairs to get through the day.
“It’s hard,” she said.
“Today is enlightening about what people with physical disabilities have to deal with. It is definitely harder than I expected it to be,” said Elijah Parker, a student from Columbus State University.
Newbold said the difficulties not only lie in mobility, but also the mindset of other people. She thinks many people assume disabled people have mental issues or are unable to maintain things for themselves.
She recalled her experience checking in at a hotel and the staff gave the room key to the person behind her. Newbold said the clerk assumed the person behind her was her aid because the clerk thought people in wheelchairs could not travel by themselves.
Newbold said the mindset is not just among able-bodied people, but also disabled people. “If you have been disabled for so long, and people tell you you can’t do this, you can’t do that, then you are going to start believing you can’t.”
Instead of sitting around and doing nothing, she believes people with disability should use their disabilities to their best ability. Newbold hosts a YouTube travel show that promotes independent living among people with disabilities, and she hopes to expand the wheelchair rodeo in October, which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Source: Ledger Enquirer