Whizzing down a ramp with a wheelchair and make a one handed rollover? No problem for wheelchair skaters. Even the youngest are having a lot of fun. David Lebuser has already come a long way in this discipline, and flies regularly to the World Cup in the USA. At REHACARE he shows the visitors what stunts with a wheelchair are possible.
David Lebuser; © beta-web/Lormis
Mr. Lebuser, what are your plans for the REHACARE 2015?
David Lebuser: For the first time ever, we get the chance to showcase our sport live during the trade fair. We would love to show visitors all of the things you can do with a wheelchair at a skatepark. It would also be great to inspire a few people to join us and perhaps participate in one of our workshops.
Are visitors actually able to skate with you here at the trade fair over the next few days?
Lebuser: We are offering it but unfortunately, the skatepark at the trade fair only offers limited chances to do this. Taking a quick spin is definitely possible but our workshops are better suited for a proper hands-on experience. Our primary goal is to show visitors what they can do with a wheelchair at the skatepark. Those who have questions or want to try things out themselves are always welcome to approach us directly.
Do wheelchairs actually need to have special safety devices before you can use them at the skatepark?
Lebuser: No. Everyone can participate with his or her active wheelchair. We are also not doing any tricks where the wheelchair could be damaged. Generally all four wheels will stay on the floor in the beginning. Of course, those of you already more advanced can switch to a skateboarding wheelchair that has better suspension and can be individually equipped with harnesses for example. Yet to get a little taste of things, a helmet and knee and arm protectors which we also loan to people are perfectly sufficient for starters.
During the trade fair days, wheelchair users are cordially invited to try out the DGUV (German Statutory Accident Insurance) skatepark in Hall 3; © beta-web/Stöter
What is your advice for wheelchair users who would like to ride in the skatepark but don’t really dare to?
Lebuser: I tell anybody who is interested to stop by and watch. Usually, it happens very quickly that they also want to join in. We start small and first show basic skills like turning on a ramp for example. We gradually increase the level of difficulty and meet everyone at their current skill level. Then we try to determine the limits of the participants and perhaps push them a little.
How old was the youngest and the oldest participant who ever participated in your courses?
Lebuser: We offer special courses for children and the youngest one there was probably three years old. Of course, this is a very different type of experience for children: they don’t learn tricks but see this as a huge playground. For children with wheels under them, a skatepark is an exciting place to let off some steam. They don’t necessarily need to jump in from the highest ramp. And just like other children slide down on a slide, these children then slide down a slant or practice jumping over a curb. They get to know their wheelchair in a playful way and can assess their own wheelchair skills. This also makes everyday life easier because you learn to handle difficult situations.
Older wheelchair users around sixty are also participating and can definitely still teach the younger ones some things. You simply notice that they have learned a lot during their many years of being in a wheelchair and they love to share this knowledge with the younger people. And for children it is wonderful of course when they can pick up some skills.
Are there actually more boys or girls who want to try chair skating?
Lebuser: For a while, I would have said that it is more girls or women and not just in the workshops. At this point, however, I think things have evened out. This is a sport that can be truly done by anyone whether they are young or old, woman or man.
Chair skater David Lebuser in action; © beta-web/Lormis
David Lebuser and other wheelchair skaters will give interviews (in German) every day and offer demonstrations at the skate park in Hall 3:
14. + 15.10.2015
© B. Frommann
The interview was conducted by Simone Ernst and translated by Elena O'Meara.