We met up with Stuart Wheeler, the founder of Freedom Wheelchair Skills, to learn more about his business, what he gets up to on his day-to-day and what his advice would be for new wheelchair users.
At age just 17, Stuart became a T4 paraplegic after a serious car accident. However, Stuart doesn’t let his disability get in the way of living his best life. Now, a family man, running his own business, with various hobbies, enjoying an active life; head chef at home and doing the school run three times a week to name a few.
Stuart started up Freedom Wheelchair Skills after recognising the need for wheelchair skills training for individuals needing to use a wheelchair to help build their confidence. As a wheelchair user for 26 years, Stuart offers a first-hand point of view when it comes to using a wheelchair. Freedom Wheelchair Skills offers one-to-one training or group training (usually a group of 5). The one-to-one classes offer a more tailored experience. If there are certain journeys you aren’t confident about, these classes offer the perfect opportunity to skill-up and gain your confidence!
During one-to-one sessions, Stuart tailors each lesson to the individual user. He tells us how rewarding his job is and mentions how his training all comes from the heart.
Being a wheelchair user for a long time, Stuart is aware of how important it is to keep his upper body limbs healthy, so he understands what products best suit his lifestyle. He uses a TiLite wheelchair, which takes on everyday challenges as he is an active user. He uses Spinergy wheels for lightness and strength. Stuart also has a couple of wheelchair accessories, one of them being a Smart Drive which provides him some assistance, helping maintain the health of his shoulders. The combination of a FreeWheel and Smartdrive on his manual chair allows Stuart to roam rougher terrain and travel further distances.
We asked Stuart what advice he would give to a wheelchair user; Keep active, keep busy, it’s too easy to get sucked into the monotony of day-to-day life not doing anything. But if you’re active and keep busy, life is better, life goes a lot easier. Take on those challenges and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and there are always things that (even if you’re able-bodied) you won’t be able to over-come. Don’t get annoyed at yourself if you can’t over-come it and always ask if you need help; It doesn’t hurt and makes life a lot easier. If you’re struggling to do something, ask for help and do it with assistance it’s called verbal independence.
You can find Stuart’s website here – offering more info on the training sessions he offers, FAQ’s and video testimonials.
Watch our case study video with Stuart Wheeler!