SAN DIEGO — A sophomore in California has gotten pretty good at navigating her school in her wheelchair, but on Wednesday she challenged others to put themselves in her shoes.
Valarie Crisci reached out to HeadNorth, a non-profit organization that supports people with spinal cord injuries through education and awareness, to bring their “Day in a Chair” program to her high school.
And that meant giving 12 students and the principal wheelchairs for the day at Point Loma High School.
Crisci was able to give the group an idea of the obstacles she goes through every day.
“During passing period people will just jump in front of me and I roll into them and I don’t mean to,” Crisci said.
Trekking across the campus wasn’t as easy as the group thought, which was the point of the exercise.
There were blisters and sore arms – but that didn’t stop the students from playing wheelchair basketball with a group of experts.
“I don’t realize how hard it is because I’ve done it my whole life,” Crisci said.
While the students said they had fun, they also learned a valuable lesson.
“She has to be somewhat creative in finding ways around her every day life so it’s very inspiring to see that she’s able to do this on a daily basis and not give up,” one student said.
HeadNorth also provides mentors for teens like Crisco and spreads information about ADA compliance.
The exercise only lasted a day, but Crisci said that was enough.
“I wanted people to see how difficult it is to use a chair, but I also want them to see like you can do sports and you can do everything you do when you’re walking,” Crisci said.