Out in nature is where Sina Schachel feels at home. She enjoys leading an active life with her husband and their dogs. What can she do without? She can do without overbearing and paternalistic behavior. Unfortunately, she says, there is still far too much of that in our society. Which statements she finds particularly inappropriate and how she rolls otherwise, she tells us on REHACARE.com.
Name: Sina-Sophie Schachel Age: 31 City: Calberlah, Germany Occupation: Public service employment promotion specialist Disability: Vacterl association
Sina Schachel: When I take a relaxed walk with my three dogs (and maybe my husband) and enjoy the time in nature. Riding my handbike in nature is also one of my great passions. But a nice day can also consist of a good conversation with a great person or delicious food.
Which auxiliary means or daily living aids are indispensable for you?
Sina Schachel: I have a wheelchair to get around inside and outside the house. In addition to the wheelchair, I have a SmartWheel. It's sort of a big, fat front wheel and leverages out the small front wheels. This makes it much easier to get over uneven surfaces (forest trails, cobblestones, broken asphalt, etc.). It doesn't shake too much in the wheelchair and you can actually have a conversation. May not sound so important, but is really worth its weight in gold.
What would you like to see from society and your fellow people in dealing with people with disabilities?
I wish for:
More understanding for the fact that people with disabilities also do or would like to do quite normal things without having to justify themselves for it.
More understanding that people with disabilities not only want to be practically "equipped", but also feel beautiful.
More understanding that people with disabilities are individual persons.
More understanding that people with disabilities do not exclusively have a circle of friends consisting of other people with disabilities and would also like to visit friends without disabilities at home. However, this is often not possible because most homes are not accessible.
I would also like to see,
that a "no" is accepted as such.
that people with disabilities are not treated like children or unintelligent persons who constantly need help.
that it is not automatically assumed that I must tell everything that concerns my disability.
that people with disabilities are not the victims of encroaching actions, conversations, prejudices, or statements. For me, this includes questions and statements such as: "How dare you cross the street alone?", "Aren't you too far from home?", "Great that someone like you has a partner. He must be a good person if he wants to be with you", "How do you have sex?", "You can't do it anyway" or "Your dogs belong in a shelter, you can't offer them anything anyway".
Which assistive device would urgently need to be invented and/or improved?
Sina Schachel: Everything that concerns activities for wheelchair users, for example, additional equipment for the wheelchair. Of course, this is not primarily important, but it is good for the body and mind to be active. In the best case, with a self-selected sport / activity. Surely there is much more, but I can only speak for myself.
Sina Schachel loves to be outdoors and especially active in sports – be it with her husband or her dogs.
What has been your biggest challenge so far that you have mastered – and what has helped you?
Sina Schachel: It was a big challenge for me to attend regular school and complete an apprenticeship – despite the many sick days. I still did quite well for that. The only thing I couldn't get rid of was the 5 (E) in math until I graduated from secondary school. At the same time, like everyone else, I was still a child and a teenager. Of course, you have other things on your mind than just school. I am very grateful to my parents for always supporting me and fighting for me. So it was not only possible for me to attend elementary and secondary school, but also to do an apprenticeship in the civil service, where I still work today.
What can the assistive technology industry learn from the Corona pandemic to make life easier and/or better for people with disabilities in the future?
Sina Schachel: I don't know an answer regarding the assistive technology industry. With regard to the pandemic, I can only say how much everyone felt restricted in their freedom. Suddenly, you couldn't go anywhere "just like that". This is how many disabled people feel every day due to the lack of accessibility...
If nothing was impossible: Who would you like to meet one day and why?
Sina Schachel: Oh, I would have a hard time deciding. On the one hand, it would be Jane Goodall, because for me she is a great role model for how people should treat each other. But then I also really like the environmentalist Robert Marc Lehmann, who in my view has a good opinion on how to deal with nature in most cases.
I would like to meet the entertainer Chris Tall, because I think he does it just right. All people of any group of people are the same, accordingly, you can include everyone in the comedy. And I'd love to have a chat with behavioral biologist Kate Kitchenham. I know – typical dog owner. But I appreciate her opinion very much and think that you should not take yourself and dogs too seriously in every second and also just have fun sometimes.
What was your best REHACARE experience?
Sina Schachel: 2023 was my first time at REHACARE and I found the conversations with old as well as new faces incredibly enriching and valuable. The lovely people really made the visit a great experience. Furthermore, I liked the feeling thatI was "one among many". Even if it sounds silly, but you were simply nothing "special" or stood out with a wheelchair. That was great. Another highlight was of course the hall, where different sports were presented. Very interesting to see in which areas you can be active everywhere.
What I wanted to say...
Sina Schachel: Every person (with disability) is individual. Many things are doable, just differently. This does not always mean that it is bad. Unfortunately, there are still many insurmountable hurdles. The typical saying "barriers are only in the head" is not true in my eyes, because a staircase prevents wheelchair users from moving forward. I wish I didn't always have to think about whether I can get to the restaurant in my wheelchair, whether I can get to the event or whether there is a disabled toilet.
Inclusion is such an important topic, it starts in early childhood. My siblings who were born without disabilities never saw me as someone different from them. The wheelchair was just there. That's exactly what I would wish for all other children with and without disabilities. Growing up together – be it as friends or siblings. Playing together, swinging together, scolding each other about homework or later attending their first parties. You learn so much from each other and take away experiences for life – both children with and children without disabilities.
Finally, an important appeal to all: A disability is no reason to hide! If you have something in mind that you would like to do – just do it, in your own way. It will certainly be different. But that doesn't mean it won't be good.