Flying wheelchair project at Niigata University of Health and Welfare
The "Flying Wheelchair Project" began at Tochigi Technical High School in 1990 and then spread among various technical high schools across Japan. The purpose of this project was to collect, repair, and maintain wheelchairs that are no longer used in Japan and send them to Asian countries that needed them. Currently more than 40 organizations, including 35 technical high schools, universities, and volunteer groups are involved. Volunteers are divided into: collectors, repairers, transporters (sky partners), and receivers (who are local volunteers). In 2006 from Niigata University of Health and Welfare, one student from the Department of Physical Therapy and two faculty members participated in the Sri Lankan project. After that, the organization called "Flying Wheelchair Supporters" was established in 2009, mainly by the students from the Department of Prosthetics & Orthotics and Assistive Technology. These Flying Wheelchair Supporters are wheelchair collectors and repair volunteers. In addition, when working abroad, they also provide wheelchairs to various households, hospitals and facilities in cooperation with transport volunteers and local volunteers. Besides that, the volunteers provide instructions about seating and assisting methods, and are actively involved in the project constantly.
In club activities focus on repair sessions at home and abroad and visits to welfare facilities etc. So far the Flying Wheelchair Supporters have visited the Kingdom of Thailand, Korea, Sri Lanka, and Tohoku devastated by TSUNAMI . They have also visited Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. Recently, in addition to wheelchair repairs, the students of Prosthetics & Orthotics and Assistive Technology, give instructions about proper use of wheelchairs to local people. Our Flying Wheelchair Supporters always think about the users of wheelchairs and offer the best technologies that is available on the market. In summary, we would like to continue this activity and hope that our Flying Wheelchair Supporters will spread this project through out the world.