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CSULB creates an obstacle course in the SRWC for students to try

The Student Recreation and Wellness Center gave students a chance to experience a workout in a wheelchair on Wednesday by hosting the Wheelchair Obstacle course.

The event strapped able-bodied students into one of two sport wheelchairs to race through an obstacle course while competing for the best time. The underlying purpose was to give students without disabilities a chance to experience the difficulties that come with operating a wheelchair, Michael Freeman, the event coordinator, said.

“The obstacle course gives students a different perspective,” Freeman said. “It allows students who might feel discouraged a chance to participate.”

He said that he believed the SRWC is better at meeting the needs of disabled students than facilities at other CSU campuses.

“The [recreation] center is ahead of the curve at meeting all student needs,” Freeman said.

Obstacles included navigating through cones, shooting basketballs, moving backwards and spinning around a tether pole on the basketball court.

The sport wheelchairs feature angled side wheels that allow the user to make quicker turns and a small wheel under the seats for added balance.

Phillip Contreras, who is a senior kinesiology major and an employee at the assistant inclusive recreation coordinator at the SRWC, said he designed the obstacle course.

Contreras said he believes that students walk away from the course with a changed perspective on people who have to use a wheelchair for mobility.

“Their eyes are wide open after seeing what it is actually like in a wheelchair and seeing athletes that are in wheelchairs move so efficiently,” Contreras said.

Kinesiology major Philip Contreras demonstrates the tether-rope challenge for the Wheelchair Obstacle Course at the SRWC on Wednesday. (Josh Barajas / Daily 49er)
Josh Barajas
Kinesiology major Philip Contreras demonstrates the tether-rope challenge for the Wheelchair Obstacle Course at the SRWC on Wednesday.

He said that the most difficult aspect of handling a wheelchair is balance and moving “your body in correlation to the course.”

Sean Veneracion, a 21-year-old communications major and a participant, said that the most challenging part of the course for him was moving a large yoga ball around four cones.

“You have to control [the ball] with one hand and steer with one hand,” Veneracion said. “You would need a lot of upper body strength.”

Contreras said that the event is meant to be as inclusive as possible and designed for both abled and disabled students to attend.

“This idea has been here before, we are just trying to enhance it, making it more known to the general public,” Contreras said.

The event offered prizes including knapsacks, water bottles and the grand prize of a $25 gift certificate to BJ’s Restaurant for the student who completed the obstacle course fastest.

Wheelchair sports are offered every Wednesday between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the basketball court and are open to any students interested.

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