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United Spinal Association of Northeast Ohio > BLOG > Connections Newsletter Article > 2023 Roundtable Discussion – What Hobbies Do You Enjoy?

Spring weather is here in Northeast Ohio, and as we start to wake after our “hibernation,” the conversation turns to what can we do.  Living with a disability can provide enough struggles, but then we are faced with the questions surrounding accessibility in enjoying basic, everyday  hobbies.  What hobbies CAN we do? What’s available? What’s possible?  

Of course, everyone will have different hobbies. And there are different levels of participation in hobbies.  TV and watching performance events prove that we enjoy observing others just as much as doing an activity ourselves.  There may be a hobby that you can enjoy as an observer if you are unable to do the hobby physically.  Or, can you direct someone as a way of participating in a hobby?  Are there modifications that can be made or an [inexpensive] device/tool that would allow greater participation?

Continuing our roundtable discussion, we asked # different people, with varying injury levels and years post-injury, “What hobbies do you enjoy?”  Here is what we were told: 

James Guy, 25 years post-injury – Why I like Flying Drones! It started way back years ago, before my accident. I flew RC airplanes and helicopters, but after my accident, it was hard to take them out to a field to fly them. So I got into flying 5″ RC drones and have enjoyed it. In the last 5 years, drone technology has advanced a lot! Now I fly 3″ Micro Drones under the 250 Gram limit set by the FFA! I fly recreationally, and for fun, I fly FPV (First Person View) with Goggles to have a bird’s eye view when flying. It costs some money to get started in the hobby –  for the drone, the goggles, the batteries, and the chargers. I do build some of my drones and program them too. There’s a lot of help to learn how to get started on YouTube. I have a drone bag I can take to the park with 3 micro drones in it with my RC radio controller, some tools, and extra batteries. All drones have gyros for beginners to help you keep the drone from flying off, and when you get better at it you can flip a switch and go to AIR mode. In AIR mode, you can do flips and spins, which are a lot of fun if you like freestyle flying! My 3 sons enjoy the hobby too so it’s fun for the whole family. Some are just getting started, and some flying in Air Mode like me and always know your Air Space. I use apps like B4UFLY and AIR MAP to ensure I’m safe flying in my air space. The nice thing about flying 3″ micro drones is that they do well outside and you can fly them in your house like I do if it’s hard for you to get outside in the winter. There are a lot of simulators out there for your computer to teach you how to fly to get started. Happy Flying!!!

Amy Binko, 5 years post-injury – My hobbies include reading and watching live theater. My favorite types of books to read include fantasy, romance, and mysteries. My love for books and reading started when I was younger with the Harry Potter series and has continued to the A Court of Thorns Roses series, the Mary Russel Holmes series, and so many others in between. I also enjoy going to see Broadway Musicals at Playhouse Square. My favorite musicals that I have seen include Porgy and Bess, Wicked, and Hamilton.

Don Johnston, 55 years post-injury – One of the most fun and relaxing hobbies that I like to enjoy is container gardening.  Being able to create an idea out of old clutter, boxes, tubs and crates filled with soil and dirt and then planting seeds or bulbs and transplanting hearty plants is the way I like to begin the early growing season.  Most of the containers are created for me to easily reach to weed and water.  It’s fun to watch my plants grow throughout the warm growing season.  I always take many pictures to see how they look month to month.  Flowers that start from my helping hands can be transplanted and placed into a simple mixture of Vermiculite with peat or sphagnum moss.  Or hey, just buy potting soil at your local garden center or hardware store.  I add leaves from the year before and compost. That adds rich nutrients that are always good.  My favorite plants and most successful ones are cherry tomatoes.  Banana peppers do well for me as well and the strawberries are always sweet and delicious. This year I’m growing lettuce to eat along with my other edibles to have a homegrown delicious and wonderful salad. Container gardening is an easy hobby that takes an initial amount of planning and effort but after that, you can enjoy the beauty of the flowers and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Will Baker, 4 years post-injury – A hobby that I started before my spinal cord injury is carpentry.  Before my injury, I remodeled all kinds of rooms in homes: basement, laundry, living room, anything.  And I really enjoyed it.  Since my injury, there are things I cannot do now, but still, many things I can.  For example, I made a platform that used all of the tools: power tools and manual labor tools.  My family and I just moved into a home, and I have been able to make some repairs and modifications. Things that I am not able to do myself, I am able to teach my wife and my children.  That way, I still participate in my hobby and teach my family my knowledge and skills. I’ve always loved working with my hands and tools, so it’s a real blessing to still enjoy it, even with some modifications.  I am looking forward to the warmer weather to get back into some planned projects.

Megan Hammond, 15 years post-injury –  There are so many hobbies that I enjoy doing.  Some I call “big hobbies,” and others “small hobbies.”  Big hobbies take more time, energy, and equipment to do, while I do small hobbies more daily.  My small hobbies include reading, baking, crocheting, and other crafts. I love getting creative. Then my bigger hobbies include handcycling and kayaking.  Those hobbies are usually a little more physical in nature and tend to be outside.  I enjoy handcycling and kayaking with my fiance, and he is able to help me transport and maneuver the equipment around. 

We enjoy getting out onto the Black River in Lorain, OH, to start our kayaking adventures.  Usually, we go upriver to look for a family of river otters and to see what else we can find.  Or, if the weather is perfect, we will head out onto Lake Erie, which is a different experience being on the lake. The ADA-compliant kayak launch in Lorain makes this process much easier! If we are handcycling, we enjoy the Lorain County or Cleveland Metroparks.  There are SO many trails to explore. 

Whether you are flying drones, creating food in a container garden, doing small hobbies, or big hobbies, there is certainly something for everyone to enjoy.  Let us know on our Instagram (@norscis) what you like to do for fun!

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