Question from anonymous:
I have a lot of respect for your strength, but I know it’s not easy. I hate to see a person struggle. What’s the best way I can help a friend in a wheelchair?
My Two Cents:
First off, it’s cool that you didn’t let the wheelchair scare you away. Some feel that they can’t be friends with a wheelchair user because…uh…i don’t know. Maybe they think the wheelchair is contagious. Oh well. Their loss.
Now, back to you. The best way to help a person in a wheelchair is to simply ask. There have been plenty of times where people have tried to help me by giving me a push without letting me know in advance. In some instances, my fingers have gotten caught in the spokes and I’ve grazed a few ankles because the driver didn’t realize how close I was to the person in front of me. Worse yet, an unexpected push can literally catch me off-balance, causing me to fall forward, or even tumble out of my chair.
So when you see your friend struggling, just ask, “How can I help?” And if the offer is rejected, keep it moving. Don’t sit and stare. It may just look awkward because it’s the best way for your friend to do it.
On the other hand, just being there is a great way to support a wheeler. Sometimes, I may need a good laugh, cry, hug or glass of wine (not whine…please, no whining). A good friend is a good listener. And a great friend pays attention and gets educated about your needs by scouting out venues with stairs, accessible parking, etc. By the looks of things, it seems like you’re on the right track. Take care.