Put on Your Cape and Pants; It’s Time to Go Out

    Clothing opens door to outdoor activity for those with limited mobility

    By Helen Metella on May 19, 2017

    Danny Wein taking an extended outing in winter

    Danny Wein (centre) can now take extended outings in winter, thanks to the clothing system co-designed by Megan Strickfaden (left). For caregivers such as his father, U of A professor emeritus Ross Wein (right), a variety of hooks, tabs and zippers make it simpler to help users into the clothing. Photo credit: Jessica Fern Facette

    Danny Wein, ’98 BSc(Hons), is an avid outdoorsman who immerses himself in nature often and enthusiastically.

    Wein was in a motorcycle accident in South America in 1998 that injured his lower brain stem and took away his mobility. That doesn’t stop him from getting outside whenever he can with a backwoods-access wheelchair pulled by helpers, but until now his activities have been restricted to summer or to short winter outings because his extremities get cold very quickly.

    Now, a clothing system designed by Megan Strickfaden, ’89 BA(Spec), ’02 MDes, means he can be active outdoors for as long as he wants, year-round.

    “There are no clothing options for people with mobility challenges when it comes to doing winter outdoor activities, let alone activities that verge on extreme, such as sit-skiing [or] sit-skating,” says Strickfaden, an associate professor of design studies and material culture in the Department of Human Ecology.

    Without functional and comfortable winter clothing, she says, people with limited mobility simply won’t go outdoors for extended periods. “That can create isolation and depression,” she says.

    Strickfaden worked with Xioakun Yu, a visiting scholar from Donghua University, and local manufacturers to develop the clothing, which consists of 60 special features, including a high-tech poncho with fitted shoulders and hood, plus two bottom options.

    Wein and others are testing the prototype this winter through the Alberta Abilities Lodges Society, founded by Wein’s parents, Eleanor and Ross Wein, former U of A faculty members.

    The goal is to refine the design and produce the clothing for the global market.

    Strickfaden’s designs garnered her an award in December from the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons With Disabilities. –helen metella

    Danny Wein (centre) can now take extended outings in winter, thanks to the clothing system co-designed by Megan Strickfaden (left). For caregivers such as his father, U of A professor emeritus Ross Wein (right), a variety of hooks, tabs and zippers make it simpler to help users into the clothing.