His eyes sparkling with excitement, Chayse Krull manoeuvres his wheelchair up to the half-log and hops the newly attached Freewheel device up and over its rounded top.
The 16-year-old’s enthusiasm was bubbling with thoughts of the freedom the new device will bring him and other members of the Comox Valley Wheelchair Sports Society.
“Most of us living in the Valley take for granted the ability to access all the local trails and beaches,” says Mark Arsenault, manager of the Courtenay Alberni Outpost store, which purchased the Freewheel for the society and presented it earlier this month.
“The Freewheel will allow anyone confined to a wheelchair that same access.”
When attached to an ordinary wheelchair, the Freewheel lifts the small front wheels of the chair off the ground, turning the chair into a three-wheeler.
“With this on, you can simply roll over so many ordinary obstacles that a walking person would not even notice, like curbs, grass, dirt trails, gravel, snow, and even packed sand,” said CVWSS president Rene Poirier.
The Freewheel also makes it much easier to ‘pop a wheelie’ to get the attached wheel up onto an obstacle with momentum, which in turn makes it easier to power the large rear wheels of the chair over the obstacle as well.
“We’re thrilled that Alberni Outpost saw this as a valuable contribution to our community,” said Poirier. “The certificate we gave them is titled ‘Local Hero’.”
The club hosts wheelchair basketball most Friday evenings in the Comox Community Centre.
About half of the club’s members have disabilities, but everyone plays in the sport wheelchairs owned by the club.
Members of the general public, disabled or not, are invited to come out to try the sport. For more information, check www.cvwss.ca.