Friday, October 28, 2016

These cool costumes are for kids on wheels

Occupational therapy student Chantal D’Souza wanted to create costumes that work with wheelchairs for inpatients at Holland Bloorview. “I know kids in wheelchairs often get asked: ‘What happened?’ or ‘What’s wrong with you?’ says the University of Toronto student. “I wanted to change that to: ‘Tell me about your costume?’ or ‘How did you make that?’

Chantal volunteered with artists Lynn Simmons and Marek Wojcik in Holland Bloorview’s Centre for the Arts to run a four night costume-making course.

“Don’t worry so much about whether the costume is something that’s Pinterest-worthy,” Chantal advises parents. “The process of creating it themselves is engaging and fun for kids and makes a memory.”

Here are her tips:

  • Let your child come up with the idea of what to be.
  • Make the structure of the costume from cardboard (your local grocery probably has spare boxes). Stabilize the structure with light PVC tubing from a building store. PVC works great because it bends. For example, one child made a mermaid tail out of PVC tubing that was sawed into circles to create the frame and then covered in fabric.
  • Paint the cardboard structure with acrylic paint from the craft store, or cover it in fabric. Go to your fabric store and look for samples.
  • One child cut feathers out of cardboard, then painted them in blues and greens and attached them with wire to her larger peacock costume. You can get really cool metallic paint too.
  • Use zip ties to attach your costume to your child’s chair without damaging it.
  • A glue gun is great for sticking pieces of the costume—like ears—on.
  • Think about how you can adapt activities so your child can participate. For example, instead of you cutting the fabric, hold the fabric so that your child can cut it.
“Throughout the process there is a lot of taking the costume and putting it on the wheelchair and then taking it off to make sure you know where to secure it.”

This piece in walks you through how to make 17 wheelchair costumes.

By Louise Kinross


I loved the horse costume I saw this year! Had to chat with the rider, who I could tell was a fellow equestrienne like myself :-) Such a great idea!