Exploring kids' curiosity about wheelchairs

A man in a wheelchair laughing about kids' curiosity about wheelchairs

By engaging with the kids' curiosity about wheelchairs, I was able to give them an accurate depiction of life in a wheelchair. | Photo Credit: ©ShotPrime Studio / Adobe Stock

Exploring kids' curiosity about wheelchairs

Kids say the darnedest things

We are all familiar with the classic term curiosity killed the cat. Cats may be curious creatures, but they will always be outshined by children's passion for curiosity. Kids are drawn to curiosity like flies on honey, but why?

Curiosity is the basis of all learning. If you are a parent or have spent considerable time around young children, you are likely used to being bombarded with questions. You have most likely been asked questions like why is the sky blue, where does rain come from, and my all-time favorite question of why do I have to do chores and homework? Oftentimes these questions irritate and frustrate us, but even the silliest questions come with an answer.

For a period of seven months, I volunteered to teach 8th-grade boys at my local church. During this time, I was asked more questions than I could ever answer. I was asked questions about subjects that I never knew existed, but my life as a wheelchair user became a focal point that inspired a variety of questions.

Truthfully, I was anxious and embarrassed to answer their questions initially, but I never hesitated when a hand went up in the Chapel.

After bonding with these 8th-grade boys, I eventually realized I had a unique opportunity. By answering their questions, I was able to give them an accurate depiction of life in a wheelchair one response at a time. Below are five of the funniest questions that have tested my wits as a wheelchair user. 

5 of the funniest questions I've been asked as a wheelchair user

How fast does your wheelchair go?

A whopping 6 miles an hour, but I often drive much slower than that due to the frequent bumps and cracks in public sidewalks. In fact, there have been several instances where I have been embarrassingly passed up by individuals using walkers and crutches. 

How much does your wheelchair weigh?

When using my wheelchair, we weigh a combined total of over 700 pounds. I may be a big guy, but fortunately my power wheelchair outweighs me by ratio of nearly 3:1. Nevertheless this extreme weight continues to be a danger for the feet and toes of innocent bystanders. 

Can you give me a ride to...?

Much like cars and trucks power wheelchairs often have shocks to make the ride more comfortable for the wheelchair user. I happen to have a mutual friend who has destroyed their shock system twice by allowing their friends to ride on the back of their chair. I personally would not recommend doing this as power wheelchairs often cost as much as a new car. 

Can you go through a car wash?

I've only been asked this question once and I was amazed by the original thinking skills of the 8th grader that asked me. Unfortunately, I could not answer their question as I was too focused on picturing what a car wash would do to the electronic components on my wheelchair. Going through a car wash in the summer is a tempting idea, but nevertheless I highly recommend that you do not attempt this feat.

Can You Pop a Wheelie?

Technically yes, but I would most likely need assistance to add weight and pressure to the back of my wheelchair. Unfortunately, the excitement would be short-lived as both me and my wheelchair would likely end up upside down and on the ground. I tend to push the limits of my wheelchair and I have even been known to occasionally jump curbs while using my wheelchair, but I would never feel comfortable worth taking the risk of potentially falling out of my chair.

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Article by
Cyrus Anton

Cyrus Anton, the author of "Exploring kids' curiosity about wheelchairs," is is a 20-year-old quadriplegic. He sustained his injury in October 2020 at the age of 17. Since then, he has managed to graduate high school, complete an apprenticeship, and contribute as a volunteer at his church, all without using his arms or legs. He eagerly anticipates beginning his college journey at Wabash College in the upcoming fall, where he intends to pursue a major in prelaw and eventually earn a master's degree in business administration.