Playing games is a natural part of being a child, but children in wheelchairs are often left out of traditional sports games and gym class games. Wheelchair athletes are able to participate in marathons, triathlons and even have their own Olympic Games competitions, and schools and communities are beginning to offer games for children in wheelchairs. These games play off traditional sports and schoolyard games but have the adjustments necessary to make them accessible for children in wheelchairs.
Basketball, baseball and soccer all have adaptive measures that can make them fun for children in wheelchairs. Basketball hoops can move to adjustable heights, making it easier for a child in a wheelchair to play. Playing a baseball game in the gym gives a child with a wheelchair the smooth floor surface, making it easier for them to get around the bases. For soccer, children in wheelchairs can use a paddle or stick to kick the ball, and the field can be moved to a blacktop surface for ease of movement.
A gym class game that can integrate traditional students and wheelchair students is the use of an obstacle course. Moving in and out of cones and ducking under limbo bars are two ideas that will allow equality among all students participating.
Trivia games are an excellent way of incorporating children in wheelchairs into a group game. These types of games can be adapted to a variety of disabilities and age groups. A beach ball can have numbers written on it, and children can toss it only after thinking of a math problem that adds up to the number their hand is on.
Follow the Leader
Simon Says and Red Light, Green Light are two common children's games found on any playground. Children in wheelchairs can actively participate in these games as equals to their peers.
In Simon Says, the leader asks all the followers to complete a command. The followers are only supposed to complete the command if the leader first said "Simon Says." If a player moves without "Simon Says" being spoken, that player is out.
In Red Light, Green Light, the leader stands at one end of a room and says "Green Light" to move the followers toward them. As soon as the leaders says, "Red Light" all followers must stop immediately. If they do not stop quick enough, the follower is out of the game. Both of these simple kids games make an ideal activity for children of all ages, and minimal wheelchair accommodations need to be made.
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs: National Veterans Wheelchair Games
- Mobility Advisor: Wheelchair Activities for Children
- Nanny State Liberation Front: Diversity 'Exercises' Replace Competitive Games in Gym Class
- The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability: Benefits and Barriers to Fitness for Children with Disabilities