Wheelchair user or petrolhead? both!

Visitors to the Clarkson, Hammond and May Live (CHML) Festival – previously known as the Top Gear Festival – had a surprise waiting for them, or was it a wake-up call? CAROLINE RULE reports

Lovers of speed, power and fast cars discovered that just because a person needs to use a wheelchair for mobility does not mean that they can’t also be a petrolhead! Once an adrenaline junkie, always an adrenaline junkie – a wheelchair doesn’t take that away. Thanks to our main sponsor, Swissport, the Drive and Thrive team were able to showcase some aspects of driving and having fun and sharing the message that life does not come to an end because of a disability. But the capacity to drive is a major part of getting back that freedom and independence, so our main goal was to spread the word about what the possibilities are for people driving with a disability.

In the midst of the fast cars, glitz, glamour and stunts, we also carried a strong road safety reminder, teaming up with QASA and their road safety campaigns. Their seatbelt convincer was a solid reminder about the importance of buckling up, and after being exposed to living with a disability, we found visitors very receptive to this “not so gentle reminder”!


 
We also ran a very popular reaction speed test competition with a “Top Gear style” results board.  Although we made this a fun experience, we also made people think about how reaction times relate to safe driving and what can affect one’s reaction speed.

Our outdoor stand focused on fun adaptive vehicles with the Adaptive Sports Fund (ASF) displaying its newly adapted go-kart. (www.adaptivesportsfund.org)Quadriplegics Bennie Erasmus and Okker Anker, with their competitive “Kruppel 4×4” rock crawler, astounded and inspired visitors, along with Phil Case and his adapted CanAm Commander that he used for riding Quads4Quads from Johannesburg to Durban.

Those who watched the CHML show were thoroughly entertained by the trio and their creative antics along with a display of Ken Block’s driving skills. The show included their interpretation of “what now” after Jeremy threw his famous punch. Zuma and Nkandla came under fire, with Jeremy convinced that he also needs a “fire pool” – not that he knows what it is. They also agreed that Jacob Zuma should have a Ferrari, which he can surely claim from our tax money as a fire engine, since it is red!

We would like to thank our sponsors who made this awareness possible: Swissport, iDes Driving Academy, UBER, Shoprider, CE Mobility, Rolling Rehab, Expand A Sign, Van Niekerk Attorneys and S Vos & Associates Industrial Psychologists.

And congratulations to the CHML organisers, who chose an accessible facility and included a free carer ticket to all guests with a disability.

More info about the event is available at www.rollingrehab.co.za.


Caroline Rule (B.Sc. OT UCT) is an occupational therapist, specialising in driver rehabilitation and wheelchair rugby. email: rule@global.co.za

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