Team COGY (Koko and Manuele, a young gentleman with CP) participated into MND fundraising walk event. It was about a month ago when I knew about this event. One of my rehab-centre clients who has MND told me about this.
Many people gazed on us, on COGY. I tried to talk to some of them, but most people were shy. They glanced away from us, as soon as I waved and started to pedal towards them. I wonder why.
Along the course, Manuele had a much better eyes than me. He is a powered chair user and he knows the way to avoid steep slope. His steering technique was great, too. There were many tricky points with narrow path and poles, and he made them smoothly.
Grass area is harder on COGY. We sometimes had gaps between footpath level and grass level. This makes COGY stuck sometimes. Most of the time, the walker just behind us gave us a little push, which is very nice of them, but I am actually not 100% sure if that always makes situation easier for COGY users.
COGY is different from standard wheelchair. If you push from behind, the pedal moves and user’s legs also moves. When we make a sharp turn, we sometimes take 3 points turn, which involves backward movement. If someone pushes from behind, when we want to go backward, that does not make sense with the steering direction which user has control on, as bad as the strength for pedalling will be blocked and wasted. Good communication is necessary when COGY user has assist.
Even for the traditional manual wheelchair, I have seen a sign saying “Do not push!! Ask before“. I understand. I also feel a little wired when people ask me “do you need any help?” in a super soft voice, when I am on COGY, and when nothing is wrong and I am just enjoying the ride.
In New Zealand, we have quite an inclusive culture. In my birth country, unfortunately, things are different. People with conditions tend to stay home and their family member are supposed to look after them. If they (people with condition) go out, some may say “Oh no. Why is his/her family not doing the shopping for him/her”. Then people end up with “hiding”. It’s like, there is a “standard” and anyone out of this are labeled as outsider. People don’t have much chance to see, communicate with, and understand those with conditions. Then “inclusiveness” stays far away..
In this 21st century, things are getting towards “diversity”, “inclusive” etc. I hope and believe, my COGY project will accelerate this wave.
(read Manuele's view)
at War Memorial Park, mt Roakill, Auckland