Students partner up to design costumes for kids in wheelchairs

Credit: WCAV
Credit: WCAV(WHSV)
Published: Sep. 23, 2019 at 2:54 PM EDT
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Bennett's Village recently partnered up with UVA and the Children's Assistive Technology Program, also known as CATS, to bring the 'Hallowheels' program to Charlottesville.

The program is devoted to making Halloween costumes for kids in wheelchairs.

On Saturday, students from UVA, the University of Lynchburg and the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences at Mary Baldwin University came to UVA to help plan out the costumes for the kids. They will also be helping them make costumes for the next five weeks.

Brian Gibney said he is thrilled to get the chance to help kids in wheelchairs have a Halloween like kids who are not in wheelchairs.

"Mobility is hard, getting around and trick or treating is hard," said Gibney. "Also, the wheelchair is a barrier to socialization, it is a barrier to movement."

Cassidy Blevins, a student at Mary Baldwin, said getting the chance to build the costumes for the kids and parents is a privilege.

"To see the happiness and joy that you can bring to a kid through opportunities like this, something so special, it's hard to kind of quantify that feeling," said Blevins.

Katie Hancock said she typically buys regular Halloween costumes for her daughter, Liliana, but they are not ideal because she is paralyzed from the waist down.

"It's really difficult to just accept that's what it's going to be and it's going to be difficult and to keep her excited, you know, if we tuck this around you or try not to get this caught in your wheels, and then she ends up with mud all up her costume," said Katie.

Katie and Liliana are excited this year, because Liliana's partners, Jess and Charlie, are looking to make her a rock star princess with a stage going around her wheelchair.

Katie said she is excited because her child will have the chance to have a normal Halloween like everybody else.

"It's exciting for her to just feel like a regular kid and not have to work around anything," said Katie.

Brian said the Hallowheels program holds a special place in his heart because he never got the chance to celebrate Halloween with his son, Bennett.

"Bennett and I were already thinking about costumes that he would have been able to have built in this program and he never got to experience that," said Gibney. "So on a personal note, I think it's really important to do this and I'd like to see the kids and the expressions on their faces when they see their final costumes."

The costumes will be unveiled on Oct. 26 at the Safe Halloween Festival on the Downtown Mall.