Traveling in style

Using the traveling couch has definitely changed Shaun’s mindset.

by Carol Leish, MA

What is the best way to travel around the city if you have problems with mobility?

Shaun Wahl, who is nine years old, is able to travel in style on both a powered lawn chair at the beach, and on a motorized couch around Ventura, and other places, thanks to his parents’ ingenuity.

“After a stranger recently posted on NextDoor, ‘I have just seen a brown couch traveling down the street here in Ventura,’” according to Shaun’s mom, Jennifer, “we realized the impact that Shaun’s motorized couch has had on people. It’s been exciting to see peoples’ comments and expressions concerning our family traveling around Ventura on the couch. By traveling around on the couch, people don’t see Shaun as a little kid in a wheelchair who has cerebral palsy. Instead, they see him as a cool kid.”

“This has also been a good outreach to others,” according to Shaun’s dad, Frank. “Others are able to sit in a powered wheelchair, or on the motorized couch in order to realize the challenges that others have with issues related to mobility challenges. This makes others more empathetic toward people with challenges.”

“We built the first power wheelchair in early 2019,” according to Frank. “In May of 2020, we built the power couch. We thought that we would get a few good laughs about it. Neither my wife or I thought that we’d be taking it around Ventura, or other places. During the week of Christmas in 2020, we took the power couch along Main St. in Ventura, and along the pier. We also took it along the pier in Port Hueneme. We wanted to take it places with a wide sidewalk.

“It’s been amusing to see peoples’ reactions, since they probably don’t know what to think about what they’ve seen. They also honk at us, or they say, “That’s cool.”

Frank said, “We started building mobility devices with old wheelchair parts, since getting a new electric wheelchair would have been too expensive. When a neighbor put a couch out in the front yard to give away, we realized that we could make a power couch that we could all enjoy traveling on at the same time.”

Both Wendy and Frank say that using the traveling couch has definitely changed Shaun’s mindset. They said, “Now he sees what he can do instead of what he can’t do, which is very encouraging! He doesn’t feel angry about his situation. He realizes what fun things he can do with his buddies. This has definitely taken the barrier (mobility issues), away from how others might view him if he was just using a wheelchair.”

“We’ve made 13 powered recliners, along with making powered lawn chairs for use at the beach,” according to Frank. He also said, “If you know of someone who may need a helping hand in modifying/making something to ease mobility issues for someone they know, please contact either Jennifer or me at: [email protected].  ‘Follow Shaun on Facebook at:  ‘Determin-Shaun.

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