This past Saturday, we had the biggest and most successful Swincar Mobility Demo Day in Richmond (Virginia) with Sportable that we’ve ever had! The best part: no one involved in organizing this demo day met one another in person until the morning of the event. Nobody should reasonably expect a remotely-organized group project to go very well, but Sportable and the York River State Park Rangers were fantastic partners. They put in a lot of work to make this demo day possible and we can’t thank them enough for trusting us and our Swincars.
Ultimately, the arrangement couldn’t have been any simpler: we brought the cars, Sportable brought the athletes, and York River State Park brought the trails. We arrived nice and early, rode out into the park with the rangers to scout the trails and plan our routes, and then spent the next 8 hours exploring miles of trails with 18 disabled athletes from the Richmond area.
For us at SwincarUSA, the day provided a number of takeaways and I won’t go through them all here. But I kept hearing one thing from the athletes, and it’s worth mentioning because I’ve gotten similar feedback from our accessibility tours here in Chattanooga. One way or another, disabled Swincar drivers keep saying, “when you’re in one of these, nobody has any reason to look at you differently.” We’ve been struggling to convey this point when we talk to people about Swincars, in part because we don’t want to make assumptions or generalizations about the experiences of people with disabilities. But, we’ve found that even for the most capable wheelchair users, there is something special about driving an “adaptive” vehicle that doesn’t need to be adapted. Once you transfer into the Swincar, you have the same vehicle with the same hand-controls, you receive the same safety briefing, and you have the same exact experience as everybody else.
Well, the experience was almost the same. In more than two years of giving Swincar tours, I have never seen people tear through mud and water with the gusto of this group of athletes…and by the end of the day the Swincars were caked with the mud to prove it.
Like always, our Swincars got some strange looks from the park’s hikers and mountain bikers, even before the mud. But I can say with confidence that none of those park-goers had any reason to believe that the people in those crazy spider cars had bodies that worked any differently than their own.
We’re going to try and do a lot more of these demo days. Even when we don’t charge for rides, they’re great visibility and exposure for Swincars, and everybody involved ends up better off for having participated. One day, perhaps through an event like this, we’ll find the right person and the right grants to set up more permanent Swincar recreational therapy programs in cities across the U.S. and Canada. We can’t wait for another Swincar Mobility Demo Day in Richmond (Virginia) with Sportable!
If you’re that person, or if you know that person, give us a shout. We’d love to talk and do what we can to help get a program started. We invite you to learn more about the Swincar and the features of our Mobility model at SwincarUSA.com.