Special needs

On wheelchairs and snow

After Toronto experienced its first snowfall last week, Anchel Krishna is looking for tips on how to get kids with special needs to play in the snow.

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Syona is all bundled up and ready to play outdoors. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.

When I was growing up, my sisters and I would anxiously anticipate the first snowstorm. It meant all the kids on the street would flood out of their front doors and start building snowmen in their front yards. As the day progressed, so did the snow forts and arsenal of snowballs. And when the snowplough came by we’d build mini toboggan hills and snow tunnels.

This week, Toronto had its first snowfall (of course it was an over-reported storm system that turned out to be nothing more than a few centimetres, depending on where you lived).

Since my parents moved into a condo, we were lucky enough to inherit their snow-blower. Last Sunday morning, Dilip headed outside to clear off our driveway and I suggested he take Syona outside — she loves loud sounds and needed the fresh air. So we bundled her up and put her in her wheelchair stroller. She had a lot of fun watching her dad clear the driveway and definitely loved the sounds.

A couple of neighbourhood kids were out having the same kind of fun that I used to when I was a kid. When Dilip came in he mentioned this and also talked about how it was a little sad to watch, because Syona can’t run around in the snow.

I know there are some great adapted winter sports — sledge hockey, adapted skiing and inclusive ice skating. And that makes me so happy. But I got to wondering, how do kids with special needs participate in the “regular”, everyday winter activities? Syona has a walker that she’s trying to learn how to use, though I doubt the wheels would work in the snow even if she could move around in it.

I suppose when there is enough snow we can build a little seat for her out in the snow. But what about building snow forts, or snowball fights or tobogganing? How do kids with special needs do it?

Syona’s three now and at the age where she’s really getting into playing. She loves being outside and the feeling of snow. I think she would have so much fun playing outside. We just have to figure out how and I am hoping you can help.

I really would love to hear your ideas on how children with special needs can play in the snow. Leave a comment below or tweet me @AnchelK!