Celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on December 03, 2022 # Adaptive Sports, Lifestyle

monoskiThe theme this year for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (always Dec. 3) is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world“. Personally, even as an English teacher, I don’t like wordy phrases to improve accessibility in our world. Even with a Masters's degree as a Reading Specialist, I have to tackle each one of those above-bolded words separately before I can begin to comprehend what they mean together-- in support of people with disabilities. Even as a partner to my husband Geoff, a T7-8 complete para, I wonder about the innovation ahead and what it will mean for our family.

In basic terms, I believe this year’s theme is about the kind of problem-solving that makes life more accessible and the world an easier place for all kinds of people, including those with disabilities. Maybe my interpretation is wrong. Maybe I’m close. Maybe this is what I want it to mean, especially in December, before Christmas, and as we grow older.

This week, Geoff is out at Ski Spectacular, an annual event put on by the Hartford Insurance Company and Move United at Beaver Creek Resort in Breckenridge, Colorado. He has been out there every year for this event since he became a mono skier in 1996. First traveling out as a student, he has grown through the ranks as a volunteer coach and now a lead clinician, taking away more and more each year from the others he learns from and around. Don’t get me wrong; I know there are many out there this week participating--both with and without disabilities-- who will learn a ton from Geoff as well. So much has changed in regard to adaptive equipment from those early years. But all of it has allowed people to experience the thrill and sensation of sliding on snow. The bottom line is that we are all diverse learners, and whatever tools we use to make our activities more enjoyable, we become more included in life.

MonoskiThis article ends with a sad little story about a mono ski that was Geoff’s maybe a decade ago now. I’m not sure why it was at work with him recently, but he brought it home and asked me to remove it from the back of his car. In my defense, it was raining, and I just didn’t have the energy to put it away in the garage. I may have said something like, “What are we going to do with this piece of equipment since you don’t ski it anymore.” I may have said, “Why do we keep all this when you never use it again?” I may have also said, “We don’t have room for an adaptive equipment museum in our garage.” I may have grumbled and then just set the monoski kind of on the edge of the lawn but still too close to the driveway. So the next morning, Geoff backed up and over it while leaving for work. Oops. He called me on the phone to come out and try to move it from beneath his wheel. Unfortunately, he had to back up over it again in order for me to release the now broken metal from around his tire. Man, did I feel guilty. I quickly reminded myself that adaptive equipment is evolving more every day. And I also know that for as long as Geoff is living, this old ski will live out the rest of its broken, rusty days somewhere on a shelf in our garage.

Thank you to all those adaptive instructors and organizers worldwide who are helping to bring adaptive innovation to those who need it most.

Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 12 and 11 respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.