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I just got home late last night from a week of skiing with NEHSA (New England Healing Sports Association).

This was the first sports clinic that I have been too and I now realize how much fun I have missed for the past 20 years.

This particular clinic was held at Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire. I cannot say enough good about the organization, the location and the Veteran’s Administration for putting on such an event.

The skiing was SO much fun! But the bonus for me was meeting so many great participants and volunteers to make the week a huge success.

A special thanks to my ski instructors, Mark and Kevin! They were phenomenal to work with and get to know. And to Ken who joined in with our group and let us use his Go-Pro to capture one of my “finest” moments! lol

The plaque on the trophy that I was awarded says it all! And here is a link to a video to show my comedic moment. Skiing 

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One trend in homes that is popular at the present time is known as “Minimalism.” I suppose that people subscribe to this for various reasons, but for someone in a wheelchair, it is very practical and functional.

Minimalism is just a fancy way of saying less is best. I’m sure that many of you have been in homes that in order to get through, you have to follow a trail around furniture, coffee tables, entertainment centers, room dividers, etc. For an able bodied person there is nothing wrong with a home set up like that. But for someone in a wheelchair, at least the way I think, I do not want to live in an obstacle course.

Starting at our front door, I enter our foyer that has one piece of furniture in it. You will also find hardwood floors throughout the house instead of wall-to-wall carpeting which is difficult to push a wheelchair on. To the left is a large archway going into what would normally be a formal sitting room. Ours is used as a music room, allowing room for my piano, and plenty of open space to roll a wheelchair around. To the right of the foyer is a four foot wide hall leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms. Straight ahead is a 32 inch doorway which leads into the family room. I would recommend a 36 inch door whenever possible, but since I fit through it fine, we left it as is when remodeling.

If I go through the music room there is another large archway opening up into our dining room. The dining room is our most crowded room in the house due to the size of the room and of course the dining room table in the middle of the room. But even here I have free access to go through the dining room and into the kitchen. I also have plenty of room to get to my assigned seat at the table where there is no chair to worry about moving.

Once in our kitchen you will find the only piece of furniture, except for a small decorative stand in the corner, is our kitchen table. Make sure when purchasing a dining room/kitchen table, you measure the necessary height for you and your wheelchair to sit at. Due to design features, many tables are not functional for people in wheelchairs. The rest of the kitchen is open floor space for me to maneuver around in. The kitchen can be a very critical piece in remodeling your home depending on your desire of what you wish to do in the kitchen. If you are a gourmet chef and love to cook than our kitchen would be completely impractical for you. There are many attractive and functional kitchen features on the market today, such as cut-out spaces under sinks and range tops, pull down shelving storage in upper cabinets and lowered counter space for food preparation. Once again, design your kitchen for what works best for your goals. The only change we made in our kitchen was the flooring. We removed the linoleum and put in ceramic tile. Note of caution here. If ceramic tile is something that you would consider, choose wisely. We wanted something light in the kitchen, but the light colored grout has caused problems. The light colored grout shows dirt easily and stains very quickly. So if you do choose a light colored ceramic flooring, make sure you get the grout sealed very well to help keep it clean.

If you were to open cupboard doors in most kitchens, you would find similar placement of the most commonly used items. The placement of those items will usually be eye level with someone that is standing up. If you are able bodied and open the cupboards in our kitchen, you will find all of the most commonly used items knee level. As strange as that may sound, it saves me having to always ask for assistance to get something I need. The kitchen is one room that can rapidly eat up your remodeling funds if you are not careful. So do what is necessary to make it functional for you, but don’t get caught up in the hundreds of gimmicks that are on the market today.

Even if minimalism is not for you, your home needs to be practical. That may sound like everyone compromising for me because I’m in a wheelchair. But Wendy and I both agreed that the more we could do for my personal independence, would ultimately result in much less work for everyone else. So in our case…less is best.

www.rickhuntress.org

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