Injured students can now borrow crutches and wheelchairs for free from the Student Activities Center.
The Undergraduate Students Association Council’s Student Wellness Commission teamed up with the Good Clothes Good People redistribution center to rent out mobility aids, like crutches and wheelchairs, to students for free. In the past, there was no centralized system that allowed temporarily disabled students to borrow mobility aids for free and return them after they healed.
George Faour, the student wellness commissioner, said the idea for the project came to him when he was walking around campus with an injured friend.
“I sort of remembered how difficult it was for her to get around campus, so then I just realized that a lot of us able-bodied students don’t really take a second to appreciate how fortunate we are to get around this campus with ease,” he said.
To test the accessibility of mobility-aid services on campus, Faour said he tried to borrow a wheelchair from different entities on campus like the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center and the Center for Accessible Education.
“No one really said that they had a system where you can rent out crutches or a wheelchair or any sort of mobility-aid resource,” he said.
UCLA spokesperson Katherine Alvarado said in an email statement that students could get crutches for free with UCSHIP or have the option to buy them without UCSHIP, from the Ashe Center if prescribed by a clinician. The Ashe Center has never directly provided wheelchairs. This is in part due to a lack of space and a system to maintain and track loaned mobility aids, she said.
“The Ashe Center has concentrated on providing the healthcare to its patients and has made available any needed crutches or wheelchairs as part of their medical care,” Alvarado said.
Faour said the main challenge in establishing the project was finding a space. Even though the Ashe Center approved his proposal, they were unable to accommodate the loaning program due to a lack of space.
The project was eventually able to find a space at the GCGP redistribution center in the SAC, Faour said. The SWC had worked with GCGP in the past to provide free menstrual hygiene products on campus.
Students can now check out mobility aids with their BruinCard for two weeks at a time regardless of whether or not they have health insurance.
The SWC is piloting the program with two pairs of young adult crutches, two pairs of adult crutches and two wheelchairs to gauge interest in the program, Faour said.
Several students who have been temporarily disabled said having to store bulky crutches at home can be a hassle, and being able to rent mobility aids could help alleviate this problem.
Steffi Yeo, a fourth-year psychology student, said she injured herself rock climbing this year. Yeo, who does not have UCSHIP, had to pay to see a clinician at the Ashe Center and receive crutches. She said she still has the crutches she got from the Ashe Center.
“It circled around my friend group as quite a couple of us got fairly injured throughout the year,” Yeo said.
Yeo said she thinks the new option to borrow crutches could be helpful for students.
“It could be pretty unnecessary to just buy a mobility aid for a temporary disability or injury so it’s great that students have the option to borrow them,” Yeo said.
Diego Costin, a second-year engineering student, said he paid about $20 to get crutches, but said it was relatively easy to get them. He still keeps his crutches at home.
“That would be a good program because I don’t need my crutches anymore,” Costin said. “Like maybe I will eventually, but they’re kind of cumbersome and they take up space.”
Faour said he hopes students will not have to deal with financial burdens in addition to their injury.
“I just hope that students don’t really have to feel the weight of insurance and the payments, or the financial disparity of buying these resources, and also to be able to walk around this campus with ease if they’re ever unfortunately injured,” he said.