How many times have you wandered off in your wheelchair and just stopped at the precipice? You look over the edge of the pavement and to the green grass beyond past the rocky path. It would have been a small adventure for you. It would have been unsafe. How many times did you turn around and think that it’s not safe enough? Slowly you swivel your wheelchair to the opposite direction. You then reluctantly roll yourself back to safety. But deep in your mind and your soul, there’s a small voice there wishing that you took the unpaved path.
Give the gift of freedom with the Freedom Chair
More than that, give the gift of freedom of mobility to someone who truly needs it. GRIT or the Global Research Innovation and Technology group, has launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that has already reached its funding goal with 45 days still to go. That’s more than enough to fund hundreds more of Freedom Chairs to ship to developing nations for wheelchair users who have no access to concrete pavements.
Beyond the paved road
Designed in the USA by a team of MIT grads, they hope to make the Freedom Chair a truly All-American product. They’ve partnered with American manufacturers to make the Freedom Chair available to the off-road wheelchair recreation market. But more than that, it was designed to stand as the wheelchair version of a mountain bike for people who love to go off the beaten path.
All of its parts can be found in most bicycle stores so replacement, maintenance and customization need not be expensive and prohibitive. Contribute more than $2,868 on their Kickstarter page and you’ll get $100 off the MSRP for the Freedom Chair. Perhaps the most innovative aspect of this off-road wheelchair is its usage of standard bicycle parts:
- patented lever drive-train
- 4130 chromoly steel frame
- bicycle headset
- 8.75 solid rubber front wheel
- quick release seatback
- comfort cushion
- quick-release hub
- 26" pneumatic mountain bike wheels
- adjustable height quick-release footrest
Is it good for its value?
While it costs several times the price of standard wheelchairs, compared to a mountain bike, it offers great value with its capabilities. To be sure, it’s an amazing engineering feat that took 6 years to develop. The team also endeavoured to ensure that the wheelchair is stakeholder driven, that’s why they traveled to many different parts of the world. In this way, they could make sure that the design fits the needs of the people who will eventually use it. To their credit, the team has shipped over 1,200 Freedom Chairs to various developing nations.
On a practical level, this chair was designed to be used for recreation and it scores a great deal in that. Most bicycle enthusiasts also spend a great deal of dedication maintaining and customizing their bicycles. That’s part of the joy of cycling. This is part of the hobby and making a wheelchair more than just a wheelchair but a hobby in itself is a great idea for diversion. Both old and new wheelchair users gain by developing a new hobby.
Wheelchairs used to carry the stigma of being something that’s relegated for healthcare purposes. Turning them into something that could be used for adventure and fun is a mark of brilliance. It’s this characteristic that grants the Freedom Chair the right to be called as such. Roll without limits using the Freedom Chair and savor the taste of true freedom.
Image grab from Freedom Chair Kickstarter