Walkie Chalk: creative fun for kids with physical disabilities and a practical tool for PTs
I love it when I get introduced to simple yet practical new tools I can use in my physical therapy practice, especially when they are functional, therapeutic, and FUN for kids and adults with disabilities.
For the past several weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to use the Walkie Chalk at my clinic and with my patients. It was generously provided to me to test drive by the inventors, Shauna and Matt Damman, in exchange for my honest review.As a pediatric physical therapist, I am always on the look-out for toys and ways to adapt typical children’s toys for usage by my favorite people, my clients with physical disabilities. I was intrigued by the possibility of an inexpensive way for my patients in wheelchairs or who use assistive devices such as gait trainers and walkers to be able to draw with chalk ~ a past-time I delighted in for hours as a child and one my boys and the neighborhood gang had fun with as they designed race car tracks on our driveways.
And, I was thinking about myself.
As a PT, I use chalk several times each week, often daily, in the clinic setting and know my body mechanics are less than optimal as I squat, crouch, and squat-walk to draw chalk balance beams, roadways for tricycles, targets to aim for, “bases” to stand on, measure long jump lengths or give base of support cues on the treadmill. Frankly, I am getting older and am much more cognizant of the wear-and-tear impact of my profession on my joints. Any simple tool that keeps me serving this population as I age is appreciated!
Enter Walkie Chalk!
This simple but cleverly designed tool takes any piece of chalk and gives it an extension so that the user can draw while standing up. It is lightweight, colorful, and has endless possibilities. During therapy sessions, my patients have worked on standing balance and weight shifting while drawing from a challenging position, accomplishing a therapeutic task while being creative. Several of my walker/gait trainer and wheelchair users have been able to draw while using their mobility equipment with simple modifications. Smiles and giggles and feelings of success emerge as their designs appear for the first time! Check out Walkie Chalk’s Facebook page, which is loaded with clever ideas for the Walkie Chalk (and more), and read the entry from Sara C, a young college student studying graphic design and who lives with cerebral palsy – she is the Walkie Chalk “special needs ambassador.”I no longer have to squat or crouch walk to draw on the floor or on the treadmill, saving my joints and my pants. Win-win for the Walkie Chalk and therapists.
The Walkie Chalk is available directly from WalkieChalk.com, currently (October 2016) priced at $14.99 and comes in two colors, green and blue. It will be available by spring 2017 in Hobby Lobby, Ace Hardware, Bed Bath & Beyond and Toys R Us. Walkie Chalk is generously offering a 20% online discount coupon to Scatter Joy readers until 12/31/16 – enter CHALKPT at checkout.
Now almost everyone can use chalk! I would love to see occupational and physical therapists, therapy programs, schools, camps, and after-school programs embrace this simple adaptation so that kids with special needs can join in the fun with ease. It encourages outdoor play and movement in kids of all ages and abilities.
There is an artist in everyone – sometimes we need simple technology to help express it.
Thank you, Shauna and Walkie Chalk for the chance to experience your exciting innovative product, to share it with the children and young adults I work with, and the opportunity for this honest review.
What creative ideas would you complete with an accessible chalk? What other simple yet effective adaptations have you found for artists of differing physical abilities? Share the art and the adaptations!