by Melissa Lyon
“Family first!” Lately, I have been binge-watching Blue Bloods and this is a common theme in all of the episodes. I really connect with this because it is a strong belief of my own. This quote is a timely one because I think it envelops the idea behind Family Day.
Family Day is one of my favourite holidays because I think it is so important to stop and take some time with your family. I have fond memories of the first Family Day we had because my family decided to do something different and go play soccer in the snow at our local high school. Even though due to my disability I have trouble running and kicking, we had so much fun spending time together and it will be a memory I will treasure forever.
There are many different ways to spend time together on Family Day. For people who have a disability, sometimes thinking of activities to do together can be challenging. I thought I would share a few resources and ideas that may be of use:
Do some snowsports. Most BC ski hills have adaptive snowsports programs. I did adaptive skiing at Big White a few years ago and it was a blast!
Explore your library resources. At the Greater Victoria Public Library there are some wonderful resources, such as audiobooks, adaptive toy kits, and free passes to local attractions – your local library will likely have similar resources, so check it out!
Go bowling. There are adaptive equipment options for those who are in a wheelchair. In my area, the local 5-pin bowling center has a bowling ramp that can be hooked onto a wheelchair so the ball can be rolled from the wheelchair onto the floor. This makes the game accessible to all.
Play mini-golf. This is one of my favourite activities to do as a family because you can visit and play at the same time. Also, it is fun for any level of player.
Go to a trampoline park. Some trampoline parks allow wheelchair jumping, which makes this activity accessible for everyone.
Visit an attraction. Most places have some great attractions to visit as a family and they are often less expensive to visit at this time of the year. Some of my BC favourites are Science world, FlyOver Canada, the BC Museum, Imax, and the lego exhibition at the Sidney Museum. The BC Recreation and Parks Association has created a list of events that you may want to explore.
Go rock climbing. This is a fun activity that not only provides some great exercise but can also be a great way to bond over a challenge. Check out this article that provides some tips and adaptive equipment ideas for climbing with a disability.
Go swimming. Swimming is a great activity for everyone. Check out this article that provides tips for involving swimmers with various disabilities in the activity.
Try geocaching. Geocaching is an excellent activity to do as a family. For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, it is a treasure-hunting activity that can be done using coordinates on your phone. To get started, go to geocaching.com.
Make a family piece of art. This can be a lot of fun – just get a huge piece of paper or large canvas and as a group create a family work of art that can be kept as a memory for years to come.
Create a family book. When I was a child, my family did this for Thanksgiving one year, creating a paper book of what we are thankful for. It was a fun thing to do together and the book is a nice keepsake. If creating a digital book is more your thing, there is a great app, called Book Creator, that is extremely easy-to-use and it allows people to make online books with audio, photos, and text. Once they are done, they can be shared online or in a pdf version. I love this app!
Play some board games. There is a good article of tips and suggestions for games that are particularly accessible to people with diverse needs. Some of my favourites as a child were charades, Pictionary, and hide-and-seek.
Take a photo walk. This is a fun way to get outside and get some exercise while taking some photos along the way. The photos could then be used to create a family book. Check out this site for some tips to get the most out of a photo walk.
Play Pokemon Go or another mobile game. This is another favourite activity of mine to do with my family. We all download the Pokemon Go app on our phones and then set out for an adventure catching characters while getting points. This site has some other ideas for mobile games that can be done well walking.
Go on a scavenger hunt. This can be a lot of fun both to set up and to do. This website gives some great suggestions for different kinds of scavenger hunts and you can get many premade scavenger hunt lists online, such as the ones found at Action for Healthy Kids.
Paint some pottery. Most cities have a pottery painting store and this can be a nice, calm activity to do together as a family. I still have pottery mugs that I painted when I was very young that I will cherish forever.
Cook or bake together. This activity is not only fun, but it is also very educational, teaching skills that can be used in the future. The Accessible Chef website has some great tools, tips, videos, and recipes that will help to make this activity more inclusive and accessible.
Camp out in the front room. If you are really brave, you could even bring your camping adventure outside, although February isn’t my favourite time to do that! Check out this article which gives tips to create a memorable indoor camping event.
I hope that some of these ideas are useful to you and your family. When it comes right down to it, no matter what activity you decide to do, the important thing is that you are together as a family having some fun. I want to wish you all a wonderful family day that creates many special memories for years to come!
About the Author:
Melissa Lyon is a disability consultant for the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC. She has a master’s degree in Special Education and has worked hard to get to where she is now. As a person with mild cerebral palsy and epilepsy, Melissa is a strong advocate for people with disabilities. When not working, Melissa enjoys doing karate, where she is working on getting her black belt.