Pete Donnelly has been using a wheelchair for 15 years. Here he tells us about his experience of wheelchair skills and what motivated him to start up The Wheelchair Skills College.
I don’t remember the accident itself. What I do know is that when I woke up, life was in contrast to what it was a week earlier.
A motorbike accident at 19 years old had caused a shopping list of injuries. Now that my legs didn’t work, I needed an alternative way to get around. Often seen as a symbol of disability, I was going to learn that the wheelchair was going to become my freedom.
Having the skills to use any piece of equipment is essential to making sure that you can use it effectively. Having the skills to use a wheelchair is no different. It takes time, patience and dedication.
It was only through wheelchair skills training that I got an insight into what could really be achieved using a wheelchair. It was brilliant. No one can teach you as well as someone who has already walked, or rolled, that path.
No stopping me
Learning wheelchair skills changed the way I looked at everything. Suddenly, the world seemed a lot more, possible. There was no stopping me now.
Growing up, I’d always had aspirations to travel, but the barriers had always seemed too big to make these dreams a reality. Ironically, now I was using a wheelchair I no longer saw those barriers as something that was going to stop me, but rather obstacles that I needed to overcome.
I was lucky enough to go on a lot of trips over the next couple of years. The one that stands out as the ultimate test of my wheelchair skills involved me travelling back home from Bangladesh. More than 5,000 miles using buses, boats and trains.
Wheelchair skills have made such a difference to my life. Everything that I have achieved has been built on a foundation of being able to confidently use my wheelchair. That’s why last year I set up The Wheelchair Skills College, offering wheelchair skills to everyone who would like to become more independent.
About The Wheelchair Skills College
Learning wheelchair skills will enable you to tackle obstacles you never thought possible. From pushing techniques and carrying a coffee, to crossing uneven surfaces and going down stairs. You can learn the skills that will take you to wherever you want to go.
Wheelchair skills are for everyone of all ages and all abilities. You can build your confidence and gain independence in getting out and about.
To find out more about The Wheelchair Skills College visit: www.wheelchairskills.org