Spoke art helps bring your wheelchair alive

An Ireland business helps decorate your wheelchair to match your outfit


Online Exclusive posted Tuesday, March 7, 2017 – 1:42pm

By Courtney Verrill

If you’re a wheelchair user who loves bright colors, art and design, Izzy Wheels spoke art is perfect for you. Izzy Wheels, a business located in Ireland, makes decorative spoke guards that help make your wheelchair become a work of art.

Isabel Keane models one of Ailbhe Keane’s spoke guards. (Courtesy of Izzy Wheels)

“The aim of Izzy Wheels has been to break down the negative stigmas associated with wheelchairs,” says Ailbhe Keane, the artist and creator of the spoke guards. “The purpose of the spoke guards is to give wheelchair users the freedom to express themselves.”

Ailbhe came up with the idea of Izzy Wheels when she was in her final year of art school. Her younger sister, Isabel Keane, was born with spina bifida which led her to be a wheelchair user from a young age and Ailbhe’s biggest inspiration for creating decorative spoke guards. Ailbhe went to Isabel with her idea and the two sisters decided to team up to create Izzy Wheels, named after Isabel herself.

“I came across a brief [in college] which asked you to empower the lives of people living with a long-term lifestyle related health condition and immediately I thought of my sister, Isabel,” says Ailbhe.

Izzy Wheels spoke guards help personalize your wheelchair to match the colors of your outfit. Both Ailbhe and Izzy feel that your wheelchair should reflect who you are and what you like.

“It always annoyed me when I was growing up that there was so little available for me to personalize my chair,” Isabel says. “My wheelchair is the first thing people notice about me, but this shouldn’t be a bad thing. Throughout my childhood and early teens, I found it frustrating that my chair didn’t express who I am, so I was so delighted when Ailbhe decided to team up with me and do something about it.”

Isabel Keane models one of Ailbhe Keane’s spoke guards. (Courtesy of Izzy Wheels)

Now with the many designs created by Izzy Wheels, both male and female wheelchair users can personalize their wheelchair.

“I have a wheel for every occasion!” says Isabel. “Choosing what spoke guards to wear with an outfit is now as important as choosing what shoes or coat to wear.”

Izzy Wheels is a small business that is growing fast. Recently, they collaborated with nine famous Irish illustrators to create new limited edition spoke guards, where a percentage from the sales will go to The Irish Wheelchair Association.

“It’s important to spread the word that wheelchair users come in all ages, genders, shapes, and sizes,” Izzy says. “Just because we have a disability doesn’t mean we don’t like getting dressed up and feeling good.”

The decorative spoke guards come in many different designs and colors. They will also create special designs upon request.

“When I am out and about now, I constantly have people complimenting me on my wheels,” Izzy says. “They attract so much positive attention, it’s amazing!”


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