Daily activities and physical exercises to get them moving (and having fun!)
Physical activities play an essential role in any child’s life, regardless of whether they walk or roll.
From improving the child’s emotional and psychological health to boosting their motor and social skills, the benefits of physical activities are many and worth utilizing.
However, important as physical activities are, they’re not usually easily accessible for children in wheelchairs especially.
An Active Life on Wheels
Kids with disabilities tend to struggle with participating in some games that other children play because they’re not modified to accommodate them.
With the necessary modifications and the right help, these kids too can participate in many games that children without disabilities play. You can be their advocate and help find or create opportunities to help them stay active, regardless of their physical condition.
Here are some of the physical activities children in wheelchairs can participate in:
These ideas can help keep their overall health in check while improving their self-confidence:
1. Modified sports
Common sports like basketball and softball can easily be modified to accommodate kids in wheelchairs.
For example, by lowering the basketball hoop, kids can comfortably dribble, pass, and score a basket with ease.
Forming teams and allowing kids to play against each other not only helps them exercise but also promotes team awareness and social relations.
Kids get to work out—and sweat a little—while playing and having fun at the same time.
To help you get your family involved in modified sports, check listings for local resources found here.
If your local center has no immediate possibilities, you can start one on your own. Examples of where parents can find these programs or how they can start them if not available. Here’s a great resource to use to help you write a letter to your local center.
2. Modified games
Popular games, like musical chairs, can also be adapted.
In musical chairs, the chairs can be replaced with mats and kids move around the mats as the music plays and race to a mat whenever the music stops. The one without a placemat gets eliminated, and the game continues. Simple and INCLUSIVE!
Red Light, Green Light is also another game that can be modified.
This is a great integration game because it allows for both wheelchairs and non-wheelchair children to play together.
One child can be placed a bit of a distance away from the rest with her back against them and yell “green light,” allowing the rest to push or walk towards her.
She then turns towards them and yells “red light,” signaling everyone to stop. The one still moving has to go back to the beginning. Such games not only enable kids to remain active but can help boost social relations.
3. Wheelchair Races
Wheelchair relay races are a great way to work out while connecting with others.
Children in wheelchairs can participate in short and long races depending on their capabilities, and those good enough can even get to the Paralympics someday!
Racing activities promote upper body strength that children in wheelchairs constantly rely on. By participating in races like relays, kids learn to rely on each other and increase social connections and relationships. Through racing activities, kids get a cardio workout that helps them stay healthy and fit.
4. Obstacle courses
Obstacle courses are a great way to get kids in wheelchairs active and engaged.
The courses are not only fun but also help build team awareness. Kids get to benefit from the improved eye and hand coordination with upper body strength getting a boost too.
Obstacle courses might involve moving chairs around cones, moving around makeshift roundabouts, and wheeling backwards. The more challenging it is, the more exciting it can be.
With time factor in the mix and awards for winners, kids can be motivated to participate and enjoy themselves at the same time.
5. Wheelchair dancing
Wheelchair dancing is another great way to engage children who are in wheelchairs.
By incorporating upper body movements through dancing, children get to exercise while having fun. Dancing not only increases muscular strength, endurance, and motor fitness but also improves heart and lung conditions.
Children can learn coordinated dancing that works like line dancing and even try musical games like musical chairs.
Get inspired and watch some videos on YOUTUBE of great mixed-ability dance routines and maybe join or start one in your community like this one in LA!
6. Ball tossing activities
Ball tossing activities are great because those participating utilize their upper bodies and core strength.
Upper body strength is vital for kids in wheelchairs because this is what they consistently use. However, while playing, they may need to use a belt or chest strap for stability.
Ball tossing activities are a great way of getting children in wheelchairs to exercise while having fun at the same time. By throwing a ball around, passing it to each other, and bouncing it children in wheelchairs get to work on their hands and eyes coordination while boosting social and team-building skills.
Wheelchair Modified Games: Everyone Wins!
There is no reason why a kid in a wheelchair should not participate in physical activities and get to experience a sense of fun and competition.
The truth is physical fitness is vital for any child, with or without disabilities.
Given the right help or modification, kids in wheelchairs can comfortably participate in many of the same physical activities that other kids participate in.