For two weeks in November Motivation Australia’s Lauren Houpapa (Occupational Therapist) and Ray Mines (Wheelchair & Seating Designer) worked with national staff of the Solomons Islands CBR (Community Based Rehabilitation) unit in Honiara to trial the new Wheelchairs For Kids wheelchairs.
Nine children with cerebral palsy were chosen as a representative selection of disabled children who need wheelchairs in the Solomon Islands. A basic wheelchair would not have been appropriate for these children because of their individual needs. Each child needed extra postural support beyond what a basic wheelchair can provide to be able to sit upright in the wheelchair.
The trial is part of an on-going collaboration between Motivation Australia and Perth based ‘Wheelchairs For Kids’, which started when the two organisations met at Motivation Australia’s Wheelchair Symposium in 2008. In 2009 Motivation Australia’s Wheelchair & Seating Designer worked with the Wheelchairs for Kids team who have gone on to build prototypes, carry out testing and donate a shipment of 130 wheelchairs to the Solomon Islands. When finalised, the new model wheelchair will be versatile, adjustable and durable and will come with a kit of postural support components that can be prescribed by national staff once they have received training.