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Team Jigger launches third annual Chair Aware event

In celebration of National Physiotherapy Month in May, and in collaboration with partners throughout Central Alberta, the Team Jigger Foundation is gearing up to launch the ‘Chair Aware’ event.
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The Team Jigger Foundation is gearing up to launch the ‘Chair Aware’ event. (Express file photo)

In celebration of National Physiotherapy Month in May, and in collaboration with partners throughout Central Alberta, the Team Jigger Foundation is gearing up to launch the ‘Chair Aware’ event.

Back for its third year, this fundraiser is geared towards identifying and understanding the barriers and struggles that the mobility-challenged face every day.

From May 29th to June 3rd, participants will experience a glimpse into the lives of the mobility challenged by dedicating themselves to a wheelchair and attempting to make it through a portion of their day as they normally would.

Seemingly simple tasks, such as crossing the street onto a sidewalk, shopping for groceries, fueling a vehicle, or entering their place of work may present a new level of complexity that would otherwise go unnoticed.

“We have had an incredible response to the event in the last two years,” said Jason ‘Jigger’ Lunn, founder of the Team Jigger Foundation.

“People who sign up to spend some time in a wheelchair all share a similar experience: a profound shock at how many barriers, hurdles, and inconveniences they have never experienced as an able-bodied person.”

Confined to a chair himself after a high-speed collision in 2011 that resulted in a STARS Air Ambulance ride and months of recovery, Lunn founded the Team Jigger Foundation to provide needed resources and fill the gap between injury and rehabilitation.

“Our Foundation works on three fronts,” Lunn said.

“First, to raise awareness of accessibility issues and barriers in our community and throughout Central Alberta. Second, to provide mentorship, resources, and assistance to those born with or experiencing a loss of mobility or function.

“And third, to acquire specialized physiotherapy equipment that has been modified for paraplegics, quadriplegics, brain injury recoveries, MS patients, those with balance or cardiovascular issues, amputees or degenerative conditions – you name it – we want to ensure they have access to equipment not normally available at a physiotherapist or hospital to help contribute to their recovery physically and mentally, and to reach the peak of their adjusted ability.”

Those pieces of equipment are not only uncommon, they are also expensive. That’s why participants of Chair Aware will be soliciting donations in addition to experiencing the sometimes-frustrating restrictions of a wheelchair.

For the third annual event, participants are encouraged to register as teams and challenge their friends, neighbors, and fellow businesses to join them in discovering a perspective they may not otherwise be aware of.

“For most, the experience is a powerful one,” said Lunn.

“Seemingly little things, like small curbs, inclines, heavy doors, counter heights, and environmental hazards become magnified in difficulty from a seated position that requires a sense of coordination and balance.”

Team members will experience two to three hours in a wheelchair and are encouraged to attempt everyday activities, such as fueling their vehicle, grocery shopping, or grabbing a quick coffee.

“Chair Aware is an incredible way to bring awareness to our communities, and to begin helpful conversations on accessibility and inclusion,” added Lunn, who is happy to welcome the support of The Lending Cupboard in Red Deer.

“We have plenty of wheelchairs available, and hope to have as many seats filled as possible.’

The success of the previous Chair Aware events has permitted the Foundation an opportunity to promote its efforts in acquiring specialized physiotherapy and recreational equipment, which makes National Physiotherapy Month even more special, he said.

“Chair Aware will always be held in May, in part to recognize the efforts of the many physiotherapists who work with individuals of all circumstances in reaching the highest quality of life they can,” said Lunn, who credits the many physiotherapists and specialists he has worked with since his incident as a major part of his recovery.

”We can do great things alone, but we can do amazing things together.”

The Team Jigger Foundation Chair Aware event runs May 29 to June 3.

Those interested in participating as a team or individual, donating, or volunteering can visit www.teamjigger.com or call 825-640-8326 for details.