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This Education in Motion resource is also available as a printable PDF.
A huge misconception that a lot of people have is that people who use wheelchairs are "bound" to them. In all actuality, being in a wheelchair may only cause the user to have a deeper desire to do more adventurous things. After all, there is nothing like the exhilarating feeling of the wind in your hair and seeing the world from a whole new perspective. Wheelchair users are just like the rest of the population in that some are thrill seekers and others aren't.
If you've ever considered being a little more adventurous but just weren't sure what options you may have as a wheelchair user, the following ideas are just for you. So buckle your seatbelt and get those wheels ready, because you are in for the time of your life!
HOT AIR BALLOONING
Have you ever wanted to float effortlessly, without getting nauseous from motion sickness or even lightheaded? Then you should try an accessible hot air balloon ride. Across the world, hot air balloon companies are taking notice that people who use wheelchairs want to soar the blue skies as well. They are adapting their baskets to have a door with a ramp so that people in wheelchairs can roll right in. Also, in Catalonia, Spain, you can be transferred onto an adjustable electric seat inside the basket which can raise up so you can see over the edge of the basket. But not too high, of course... safety first! And some baskets also have transparent sides so that seated people can have even better visibility. And if you're afraid of motion sickness, fret not. The hot air balloon moves so smoothly that you feel like you are literally floating on the clouds.
If zipping through trees and over valleys sounds more like your style, then by all means do it! Ziplining has proven to be safe and also super exhilarating. In Orlando, Florida, there is the most amazing accessible zipline that you can encounter. How does flying over a lake full of alligators sound? That is exactly what you can do at Gatorland. Here, a whole team of assistants can strap and harness you onto the zipline, send you across the lake of gators, and meet you on the other side with your wheelchair. Trust me, I have done this one myself and it is so awesome that I went back a few months later and did it all over again.
Another exciting experience can be possible with the iFly All Abilities program available at 30 U.S. locations. This indoor skydiving adventurer is sure to give you a feeling like no other as you fly weightless through the air. Spending time here can provide you with more adrenaline than you can possibly imagine. As a wheelchair user with weakened muscles, your arms and legs may feel "heavy" as you try to move and maneuver them. Skydiving is such a fun experience though, because you can just let your limbs float around and feel light as a feather.
If you like summertime and water as much as I do, you should give adaptive water skiing a try! With this exciting water adventure, you can be transferred onto a sit-down ski and, of course, seat belted into it for safety. When I tried this, I had very experienced skiers on each side of me to help me feel secure. Riding across the waves can be a bit bumpy, so picking a lake with smooth, calm waters is ideal.
Sitting there, getting pulled across the lake can give you a sense of peacefulness as the mist form the boat and waves splash by. But please make sure you get your arms secured firmly if you have poor muscle control. When I skied, one of my arms fell out of the strap while the boat was in full motion, and unfortunately my arm broke from being dragged across the water. Although I was in excruciating pain for a few weeks afterwards, I now know the importance of strapping your arms and would probably even try it again!
Snow skiing is something I have always wanted to try, but just haven't had the opportunity yet. I am not a huge fan of cold weather, but snow skiing looks like it would be so exciting. Just imagine whishing down the slopes all bundled up with the snow and wind slapping you in the face and speeding so fast, there's only a white blur in your peripheral vision. The adapted snow ski is similar to the water ski in that you are in the seated position and strapped onboard. Experienced skiers can go alongside you to help keep you upright and make you day in the snow one that you will remember forever.
No matter what type of excitement you are searching for, there are plenty of adventures to meet your needs. Just always remember: anything is possible. It may have to be slightly changed and adapted to meet your needs, but if you can dream it, it can happen. Don't just sit back and collect dust on your wheels. Break out of that comfort zone and always strive to live your best and most adventurous life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee's thirst for adventure never ceased. He went on many trips around the U.S. when he was younger, and then started taking things internationally when he turned 15. Since then, Cory has traveled to 21 countries across six continents, all while managing to start up his travel blog Curb Free with Cory Lee, where he shares his accessible, and sometimes not-so-accessible travel adventures with others. Cory is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, in a nationwide segment for CBS News, Lonely Planet, and many others. His blog won the 2017 Best Travel Blog Gold Lowell Thomas Award. He hopes to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer.
Cory Lee's ride is a Quickie Q700 M.