Great Summer Activities for Children Who Have Mobility Limitations
While many parents celebrate the beginning of summer and enjoy outdoor activities and outings with their kids, if your family is anything like mine and you parent a child a physical disability, finding accessible activities can be a challenge.
We have been in situations where there is no ramp or elevator to access an event. We have attended events where the people planning seemed frazzled when “the kid in a wheelchair” showed up. We have even visited “accessible” playgrounds to find out they had a “special needs” swing and called the playground “accessible” when it wasn’t.
I don’t want my daughter to feel left out. I want her to have an enjoyable summer and feel like she got to enjoy her summer months as much as any other kid. It’s not as easy to find activities that fit our family, but we have found some solutions that work for us.
Here at The Mighty, we often get parents asking us for summer activity ideas for their children with mobility limitations. So we reached out to our community and asked what has worked for them.
“A group in Massachusetts runs a beach wheelchair program. They supply chairs that can go over sand and into the water at numerous beaches in MA, southern New Hampshire and southern Maine. You can also borrow them to take with you on a trip. Most National Parks are wheelchair accessible to some degree via either boardwalks (woods, swamps, etc) or mats (for sand).” — Peg D.
“Our local library has a great story hour once a week that we go to, and they make a craft after the stories have been read. We also have a great Splash Pad near us that my daughter enjoys because she can sit and splash in the water and still interact with other kids. Our family also does a fun activity every Friday in the summer. We go visit a fun place together — tour of chocolate factory, riverboat cruise, art museum, etc.” — Ali D
“Our local indoor ice skating rink allows wheelchairs on the ice with an adult pushing them. It’s a great activity for my daughter and her sister to get to participate in together!” — Andrea LB
“My boys and I have been going on road trips this summer. Saw a few lighthouses and even a castle. We also do Vacation Bible School.” — Jessica B
“Most bowling alleys have a ramp for the bowling ball they can use from their chair. Good for smaller children without mobility issues, too. Splash pads are fun. I have hooked up a regular yard sprinkler somewhere paved for the kids to play in also, for a free option.” — Martha K
“Pick one night a week for ice cream night. Find local ice cream stands in your area and go to a different one each week. It makes ice cream a special event and something to look forward to.” — Peg D
“We love roller skating (via wheelchair) and bowling with ramps. Also walks to the ice cream shop and playing at the universal playground.” — Sarah F
“Swimming is our favorite.” — Jennifer S
One more thing to consider are the many camps available for kids with disabilities. There are some camps specifically designed for kids with physical disabilities. One of the best parts of camps like these is the connections our kids make to other kids who are like them, and spending time with kids their age from within their disability community.
I also learned most Park & Recreation Departments have programs for kids with mobility issues. They also provide the supports needed to make sure kids are included in their activities. I think I will be checking that out!
What activities does your child with a physical disability enjoys doing during the summer? Or, if you are an adult with a physical disability, what advice would you give to parents? Let us know in the comments below.
Thinkstock image by jarenwicklund