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Can a Kid in a Wheelchair be an Athlete?

Kids Quest: mobility

Kid in wheelchair

What should you know?

Children who have mobility challenges are sometimes confined to a wheelchair. By being in a wheelchair they often are not able to participate in typical activities that other children do without some accommodations such as ramps, elevators, etc. Because of a lack of participation, children in wheelchairs may be isolated from other children. Let's learn more...

Follow the 8 steps below for your Web Quest.

Step 1: See what you think about kids who use a wheelchair. Take the Fact Checkup!

Step 2: Think about some questions to ask. Let's see...

Step 3: Check out some quick facts.

Step 4: Check out some great websites to help you learn more.

Step 5: Find out about people you can read about to help with your Quest.

Step 6: Learn about movies and books that can give you information.

Step 7: Check out your school and neighborhood.

Step 8: Now see if your attitudes have changed. Take the Fact Checkup again.

Let's see...

If a kid is in a wheelchair, does that mean that he or she has poor health? Can athletes with disabilities be as good as athletes without disabilities? Can kids who are in wheelchairs be athletes if they can't get into the gym or pool or track?

Some things to think about....

What are some sports that athletes with disabilities can participate in?

How fast can athletes with disabilities go in a race?

What are the Paralympics?

What are some environmental barriers that prevent kids with disabilities from being athletes?

Can you think of more questions to help you in your Quest? Click here to write them down so you'll remember them as you move through this QUEST.

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Quick Facts

KQ playing basketball in a wheelchairHere are some facts that may help you answer some of your Web Quest questions. Remember, these facts will only give you basic information.

  • Athletes use specialized wheelchairs that allow them to reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. (FindSportsNow)
  • The average basketball wheelchair will cost around $1500 and has a 5th wheel at the back to prevent the wheelchair from flipping backwards during play.
  • Paralympics is the same as the Olympics except that all of the participants have some sort of disability. The Paralympic Games have always been held in the same year as the Olympic Games and occur every 4 years.

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World-Wide Web Search

Spirit the Bird mascot for Paralympic Games
Official site of the International Paralympic Games

Learn more about the elite athletes with disabilities and the games. Are the sports at the Paralympic games the same as the regular Olympic games?

US Paralympic TeamUS Paralympic Team
Learn more about the United States Team, view photos, read stories of atheletes, and find information about upcoming events.

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Read about people with disabilities who had mobility disabilities. Learn how they have become athletes. These stories are part of the US Paralympic Team and came from their website.

Photo: Allison AldrichAllison Aldrich
Home: Schuyler, Nebraska
Birthday: January 19, 1988
Allison Aldrich was already a three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball and soccer) for Schuyler Central High School before being introduced to sitting volleyball. A February 2004 feature about her in the Omaha World Herald caught the attention of Brent Rasmussen, captain of the U.S. Men's Sitting Volleyball Team, and he put Aldrich in contact with Mike Hulett, U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball Team head coach. Aldrich soon joined the national team and was on the medal stand in Athens that September, where she proved to be the top setter in the world. At the age of seven, Aldrich lost her right leg to bone cancer.
Read more about Allison Aldrich >>

Photo: Monte MeierMonte Meier
Home: Park City, Utah
Birthday: April 27, 1971
Monte Meier nearly retired after the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games. But, feeling like he was still at the top of his game, Meier came back and competed in his fourth Games in Torino in 2006. He is now well on his way to earning a spot on his fifth team and competing in Vancouver in 2010. Meier collected podium finishes in three out of four disciplines at the 2008 National Championships (Super G, giant slalom, slalom) and was a consistent presence in the top-15 during the 2007-2008 World Cup season. Meier wasn't a skier when he lost his right leg in a garden-tilling accident; he was 8 years old.
Read more about Monte Meier >>

Photo: Taylor ChaseTaylor Chase
Home: Hampton Falls, New Hampshire
Birthday: May 9, 1986
Taylor Chace first got started in sled hockey through a program called Northeast Passage at the University of New Hampshire. The opportunity to compete and gain experience in the sport led Taylor to the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Torino, where he won a bronze medal with the U.S. team. Two years later, Chace helped Team USA secure yet another bronze medal at the 2008 IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships in Marlborough, Mass. Read more about Taylor Chase >>

Photo: Eric BarberEric Barber
Home: Chicago, Illinois
Birthday: December 7, 1970
Eric Barber has been playing wheelchair basketball for more than 20 years. His experience, leadership, vision and superior court awareness are his greatest strengths.

Barber was a member of the bronze medal winning team at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia. In Beijing, Barber and his teammates were unable to medal despite having high hopes entering the Games. Read more about Eric Barber >>

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Movies and Books

Here is a video about a kid in a wheelchair that created a new sport. Ask your parents or teachers if you can watch this video.

Photo: Aaron doing a back flip on wheelchairAARON FOTHERINGHAM... HIS STORY

Aaron is a kid who learned to use his wheelchair like a skate board. He learned to do a back flip high in the air. Watch this video on

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My School and Neighborhood

Look around your school and neighborhood to see how many barriers need to be changed to help kids in wheelchairs to have the same opportunities to be athletes as kids without disabilities.

KQ in a wheelchair in front of steps1. Do you have to go up steps to enter your school or community buildings? If so, look to see if there are ramps for people in wheelchairs to get in.

Door2. Does your school have more than one floor? If it does, is there an elevator for kids in wheelchairs to get to the second floor?

3. Are the doors in your school large enough for a wheelchair to get in? Most doors need to be at least 36 inches wide. Measure your doors to see if they are 36 inches.

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Links outside this website

We provide links to other web pages if you want to learn more about a topic. Some of these pages are on the CDC web site and others are on outside websites. Links to organizations and companies outside of CDC are included for information only. CDC has no control over the information at these sites. The views and opinions of these organizations are not necessarily those of CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), or the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS).


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