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news News Monday, August 26, 2019 Monday, August 26, 2019 11:15 AM - Monday, August 26, 2019 11:15 AM

Back to school in style

Ukrainian adoptees start school set up for success with new wheelchairs

Back to school in style

By Jackie Askvig

As most children head back to school this week, my sons are starting school for the first time, after spending 16 years each in an orphanage in rural Ukraine. One had access to some education, while the other spent all of his years laying in a bed with very little stimulation.

This year, though, they are off to new beginnings after their adoption last winter. Miles is attending a special needs school in a setting full of therapy, life skills learning and caring staff – ready to go in his brand new custom wheelchair ordered and built by Shriners Hospital for Children — Salt Lake City staff. Miles' wheelchair is fitted to his every need – which are many – from added leg guides to a completely handmade foot box fashioned before our eyes right there in the wheelchair shop! Shriners Hospital staff also fit and provided Miles with braces for his wrist, foot and ankles. Both of these will help with his mobility, therapy, and educational goals at school this year – and these tools were provided in a matter of weeks, rather than months like most other routes would have taken.

Jonah, too, begins school this week at a local high school, and looks forward to playing adaptive basketball in the winter. His custom wheelchair will arrive in just over a week, but in the meantime he is enjoying his powered wheelchair generously lent to him by Shriners Hospitals for Children’s seating department, a true blessing to allow him to fully heal from his spinal fusion surgery without stressing his back. Jonah's new wheelchair will be a totally customized manual chair with power assist technology, allowing him to wheel himself with the option of using a motor when traveling longer distances to, from or at his school.

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City's incredible staff have accommodated our sons in every way, going above and beyond to meet their complex needs. They understand our unique adoption situation and make the boys feel welcome and heard, and ensure we have full access to some amazing resources. Thank you, Shriners Hospital, for sending our boys back to school in style and with mobility they never dreamed they'd achieve.

Jonah in wheelchair