These are some of our favorite games for kids in wheelchairs! Perfect for promoting activity and engagement!
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One of the most important goals for any child progressing through the stages of development is mastery of mobility skills. Functional movement, at any age, allows for independence. A baby learns to roll to his favorite toy. A child learns to walk to get her favorite snack. A young athlete learns to run to avoid being tagged.
For a child in a wheelchair, this goal of functional independence is the same but the path to achieve it might look a little different. It is important to keep kids who use wheelchairs active to improve their independence, increase their self-esteem and quality of life, maximize their cardiovascular health, strength, and endurance, and optimize inclusion with their peers.
Just as with a typical child, it is important to be creative and approach functional mobility practice in a fun and positive manner. In my practice, I frequently use a variety of games for kids in wheelchairs to motivate kids and inspire them to participate.
Games for Kids in Wheelchairs
Here are some of my favorites for children in manual or power wheelchairs. Many can be adapted for those children without functional upper extremity ability who have a caregiver to assist.
One of our favorite toys for working on bilateral coordination and upper extremity strength! Check out Zoom Ball here!
This is an exercise that every child in a wheelchair has probably done hundreds of. Make it a fun and give them a bit of control by adding a set of dice that determine how many reps must be done.
Table Top Ball Bouncing
Grab a few Solo cups or a small container and some ping pong balls. Have the child sit at one end of the table and try to bounce the balls into the container or cup. If they miss, they have to negotiate the room to retrieve the stray balls!
Table Top Bean Bag Soccer
Use a small box as a goal at one end of the table (sit it up on end). See if the child can slide the bean bag along the table and into the goal. Again, if they miss, they have to go get that fallen bean bag!
Wheelchair Simon Says
Use this game to work on basic wheelchair propulsion. Simon can offer instructions like: Propel forward, propel backward, roll on something soft, roll on something hard, change surface levels (curbs, slope, etc), turn to the left, turn to the right, do a 180* turn or a 360* turn.
Red Light, Green Light
Use this game to practice starting and stopping on command, an important skill for functional wheelchair mobility. Any child can play along!
Some of our favorite games of tag are totally appropriate for kids in wheelchairs and can be an awesome way to introduce an inclusion activity.
Set up lines to follow, objects to avoid and low surfaces to navigate over. Add a timer for even more motivation.
Take one of our favorite Sensory Motor Scavenger hunts and adapt it for the environment you are working in. This is a great way to work on functional mobility at the wheelchair level through a school building, a home or the community!
Set up bowling pins or any other items that can simulate bowling pins at one end of the room. Place a large therapy ball in front of the wheelchair. Use the wheelchair to push the therapy ball toward the pins to knock them down. For kids working on wheelchair mobility, set obstacles up between the “pins” and the wheelchair.