Although snow curtailed the original event planned for 1st March 2018, International Wheelchair Day was eventually celebrated a week later on 8th March at Gildacre Fields Housing & Care 21 complex in Southwick, Sunderland.
International Wheelchair Day founder, Steve Wilkinson, is a resident at the complex and was involved in organising the event in conjunction with the residents’ social committee and Centre management. They secured sponsorship for participant t-shirts, medals, catering and entertainment from local funeral director, Tony Clarke, Sunderland City Council and Housing & Care 21.
Residents and staff held a parade in the surrounding area as well as wheelchair races when they returned to Gildacre Fields and were joined by children from Southwick Community Primary School, who thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Doris McKnight also came along to present the medals to the children and race winners.
They were also grateful to members of Darlington Video Makers Club who produced a video of the event, which can be seen on this website Promotional Video page.
Spinal Nepal held their 7th celebration of International Wheelchair Day on Friday 2nd March at Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu.
As well as their traditional rally and parade through the streets, they also held Boccia games.
The 5th International Wheelchair Day on 1st March 2012 was the most significant yet, as it was the first truly “international” celebration. The day began with an official launch event attended by Steve Wilkinson and hosted by the Disability Information and Resource Centre (DIRC) in Adelaide, South Australia. We were honoured that two key representatives from the South Australia Parliament, Hon. Ian Hunter MLC, Minister for Disabilities and Hon. Kelly Vincent MLC, Dignity for Disability, attended and spoke at the event.
At the event, Steve also officially launched the International Wheelchair Club and Gail Miller, who was instrumental in organising the event with Letizia Gentile, Director of DIRC, spoke about her book and schools education programme “What we’re Wheelie like…”
On 28th March 2012, Hon. Ian Hunter MLC made a supportive speech in Parliament about International Wheelchair Day.
At the beginning of 2011, Steve Wilkinson was contacted by a talented cartoonist and fellow wheelchair user, Hannah Ensor.
Hannah had found International Wheelchair Day on-line and designed a logo.
Steve was delighted at this initiative and contribution to International Wheelchair Day by Hannah, who runs her own graphic design business Stickman Communications, that the logo (see above) was adopted.
Hannah has designed the official logos (see other pages) every year since.
A meeting was held in Salisbury to use International Wheelchair Day to highlight access issues for wheelchair users.
The 3rd International Wheelchair Day on 1st March 2010 was celebrated with Steve Wilkinson’s third post in the Ecademy social media website.
At this stage, there was still little awareness in the UK or the rest of the World about the day, but persistence is Steve’s strong point and he was confident that one day the World would recognise and celebrate this annual event.
A year on from the launch of International Wheelchair Day on 1st March 2008, Steve Wilkinson recorded the anniversary with another post in Ecademy.
He took advantage of the celebration to launch his “Red Rag To A Bull” appeal to raise money for disabled children.
The fund closed in 2014, when a donation was made to the Percy Hedley Foundation Splash Appeal, established to raise £1 million to build a new hydrotherapy pool.
Steve Wilkinson aka “WheelchairSteve” thought it would be appropriate to have an annual celebration day dedicated to wheelchair users, being one himself.
On searching Google and finding one didn’t exist, he posted a blog on the social media site, Ecademy declaring that 1st March 2008 was International Wheelchair Day.
He chose that date as a dedication to his late Mother, Joyce, who was born on 1st March 1929.
The most significant reply came from John von Nuding. John pointed out that 1st March 1922 was also the birthday of the late Michael Flanders, who was in a wheelchair after contracting Polio in 1943. Michael was one half of Flanders and Swann, the popular singing duo in the 1950s and 60s.
Michael is also the father of Stephanie Flanders, the BBC Economics Editor.