Wheelchair users find new challenges at local skate park

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Skateboarders, roller skaters, and bicyclists have enjoyed the fun and challenges at skate parks for years. They show off their latest tricks, imagining themselves as the next Tony Hawk or Dave Mirra. Recently, a set of participants on another set of wheels have also taken to the ramps and half-pipes, as wheelchair users have also been visiting Houston skate parks.

The North Houston Skate Park hosted the first wheelchair-friendly skating event in Houston. Some users arrive in chairs designed especially for the rigors of the course, while others use chairs donated by local charities and built specifically for skating. Participants are seeking to have a monthly event for their group of wheelchair users, which they have dubbed WCMX (Wheelchair Motocross).

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Gretchen Bailey was one of the organizers of the event. Born with cerebral palsy, Bailey has been in a wheelchair since 2015. She took a beginner class for wheelchair skaters in Dallas, then tried out her skills at the North Houston Skate Park on Sundays.

“It gave me a chance to do what I wanted to do my whole life,” Bailey said. “I had always seen a wheelchair as an enemy, and not a friend.”

Bailey is also helping youngsters in wheelchairs who want to experience the fun of rolling through a skate park. Her son Cowan, who also has cerebral palsy, followed her through the course.

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The North Houston Skate Park opened in 2014 and is billed as the largest such facility in the U.S. Sally Bradford, executive director of the Greater Greenspoint Redevelopment Authority, spearheaded the skate park project. She said that the park would add a BMX section next fall and that she hoped the facility could host more wheelchair-friendly events.

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