It's important for kids to be active, and a wheelchair shouldn't be an obstacle to that. Sports can improve any child's strength and coordination, and study upon study has shown the psychological benefits of exercise. Kids who are physically disabled are often segregated from their peers in physical education classes and sometimes in other classes as well, depending on the level of disability. Here are some ways to have fun and keep a kid feeling like he or she belongs:
- Have Everyone Go With the Flow: Ever heard of adaptive sports? That's when you modify a sport so a physically challenged person can participate. If volleyball the usual way isn't an option, what about a game where the net is lower and everyone sits? Or tennis where the ball can bounce a couple times? Or soccer with a ball held in the lap? For most sports, there's also equipment available to make it possible, from skiing to scuba diving to golf. It's a natural impulse to want to shelter a child from what he or she "can't" do, but it's important to let a kid who has physical handicaps see what he or she is capable of -- and that's OK to fall down or lose the game or struggle with something over and over.
- Get a little crazy: Yes, that's right: Your child should be able to have good old-fashioned fun regardless of their physical situation. For someone with quadriplegia, the activity could simply be blowing giant clouds of bubbles, which is good for respiratory function. Kids who with severe physical disabilities might still be able to squirt you with a water gun, and other kids might enjoy tossing water balloons. Or try setting up an obstacle course -- be as creative and imaginative as you can.