In “Design for Good” I often write about innovative solutions to big problems. What moves me most, however, is when I stumble upon a creative solution to a problem I have never noticed or thought of before, because it reminds me of how many different stories and points of views there are in the world.
This week, what moved me were the efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers, builders, and designers from around the U.S., who want to change the reality of 120,000 kids (in the U.S.) in wheelchairs, who cannot celebrate one of their most beloved holidays — Halloween — like they want to. To help the trick-or-treaters have truly amazing costumes, rather than be Superman or The Little Mermaid in a wheelchair, the nonprofit Magic Wheelchair makes epic Halloween costumes by transforming wheelchairs into “awesomeness created by our hands and [the kids’] imagination.”
As most great ideas, the idea for Magic Wheelchair came from the hard-lived, personal experience of its founders. The Oregon couple, Ryan and Lana Weimer, have five children, three of which, have been born with a form of Muscular Dystrophy called Spinal muscular Atrophy and will require the use of wheelchairs for the entirety of their lives. Since 2008, every Halloween, Ryan and Lana have made sure their kids have had the biggest and baddest costumes, turning their wheelchairs into pirate ships, futuristic vehicles, dragons, and animals.
“It is important to us that the costumes are not just another Halloween costume. Being in a wheelchair can be tough so we want to make something epic of which the kids and designers can be proud. For this reason the costumes tend to be expensive and time-consuming to make. But when they're done, they are the coolest costume in town."
Now, Ryan, Lana, and their team of supporters, designers and volunteers, want to make Halloween 2015 unforgettable for other kids with MD as well, without burdening their parents financially. Since the costumes take a lot of time and money (an average of $2,000) to make, Magic Wheelchair is currently fundraising on Kickstarter to be able to create as many costumes as possible this year. Meanwhile, kids, with their parents’ permission, can submit a short video telling the designers what they want to be for Halloween and why they should be selected for this year’s Magic Wheelchair Build. So far, the organization has raised funds for five wheelchair costumes, but the campaign is still active.
For those of us, used to thinking about impact, scalability, and efficiency, Magic Wheelchair may not seem like the nonprofit to talk about, but the impact that such a Halloween experience has on each kid’s life, happiness, and confidence is surely immeasurable. So, if you have an idea how Magic Wheelchair could grow, or are ready to support in a way that will help them fulfill their mission to make a difference for all 120,000 kids in wheelchairs in the U.S. — make sure you get in touch.
Photos: Magic Wheelchair