Winners on Wheels -

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Last Updated: 2/16/01

WOW Words

Based on a model resembling modern-day Scouting organizations, WOW programs empower school-age children in wheelchairs by teaching them important life skills, thereby building their sense of self-worth, self-esteem and levels of independence. 

Groups called Circles meet twice a month in locations across the United States.  A volunteer leader and a group of co-leaders who are recruited and trained by the program staff at the WOW National Headquarters lead the Circles. 

"All participants in the WOW program are school-age children in wheelchairs ranging in age from six to eighteen.  WOW calls each of these children a “Winner.”  Winners participate in WOW through activities called Wheels. 

Wheels are badges that teach meaningful social, life and teamwork skills building self-esteem in those whom participate in them.  WOW offers over fifty Wheels to its Winners covering subjects like Banking, Bowling, Community Service, Goal Setting, Hockey, Music, Nature and Personal Safety.  

Each Wheel combines peer interaction and tangible skills with structured activities in the form of six related projects (Spokes).  Each Spoke has a defined goal and teaches specific skills in a manner that combines fun, education and interaction. 

WOW develops its educational programs in close collaboration with educators, psychologists, physical therapists and parents.  Most importantly, the programs benefit from direct input from the Winners who participate in them.

In 1994, in an effort to reach out to school age children in wheelchairs who did not have access to Circles, WOW established Kid’s Club.  This write-in group enables participants in areas where WOW Circles are not available to earn Wheels by completing individual exercises without having to actively participate in a Circle. 

WOW also publishes a bimonthly newsletter - The WOW Connection.  As the official newsletter of Winners On Wheels, The WOW Connection serves as a vehicle for disseminating information on exciting new programs, upcoming events and important deadlines.  Each issue highlights WOW Circles, educates Leaders, provides new Kids Club activities and offers an informative section for parents.

We have discovered that it is beneficial to offer an environment where children in wheelchairs have a chance to talk to one another about the special issues, challenges and concerns that they face as a result of using a wheelchair.  To address this need, WOW created a Pen Pal Program.  Whether Winners attend a Circle or complete Wheels through Kids Club, the need to communicate to members of their own peer group still exists.  WOW National has recently established a pen pal program and Winners from all across the nation are learning about each other and sharing their stories.

Starting a new Circle is not a simple task.  Therefore, WOW created the Mentor Program.  The staff at WOW National does everything within their means to make each new Circle successful.  While that is quite a lot, it is not enough.  To make the process even easier, WOW pairs all new Circle Leaders with veteran mentor.  A mentor is an experienced Circle Leader with a proven record of accomplishments.  Their day-to-day knowledge of running a Circle has proven to be quite useful to new leaders and co-leaders.

WOW’s innovative and esteem-building programs and services for school-age children in wheelchairs have been in high demand since the organization’s inception in 1991.  There is unquestionably a need for our programs and services as the population of youth in wheelchairs continues to grow nationally.

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