September 11, 2023
Maverick Schulz, 9, collects coins off a table as part of a Mario Kart wheelchair race at Wheelie Camp at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. The experience empowers differently-abled kids to have fun and learn new skills on field trips into the community. Photo by Megan Miskiman.
Maverick Schulz boldly takes the wheel on a virtual race course as recreational therapist Shannell Corrodas-Brown checks out the action over his shoulder. Photo by Megan Miskiman.
Story & photos by Megan Miskiman
EDMONTON — As a toddler, Maverick Schulz loved to run, jump and play like all the other kids. As he grew, he found himself struggling with mobility. The diagnosis? A condition known as HSP, or Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia. Today, only nine, he’s permanently in a wheelchair.
Helping Maverick adapt to his new life is Wheelie Camp, a week-long camp for children ages 7-10 who use wheelchairs, based out of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. The experience empowers these differently-abled kids to have fun and learn new skills on field trips into the community with other kids who live with similar physical abilities.
“It's so important for these kids to be able to experience things that other kids can," says Ciara Petkau, an occupational therapist with the pediatric Specialized Rehabilitation Outpatient Program.
Camp activities include a wheelchair-based Mario Kart race where the children practise navigating their wheelchairs to avoid banana peels and collect coins along the route. They also join a scavenger hunt at West Edmonton Mall where they practise navigating their wheelchairs in public as well as spend an afternoon at the Rec Room arcade to practise transferring in and out of their wheelchairs.
“I’ve learned so many new things that make me feel much more independent in my wheelchair," says Maverick.
For his mother Jessica Schulz, it means the world to have a supportive place where her son and others like him can enjoy fun camp activities together.
"An opportunity like this is wonderful because the camp is planned around their abilities — and it accommodates all of their needs."