Reverend shares his experience

2017-09-06 06:02
Rev Aydn Wilson, ably assisted by Gerrie van der Voorst, takes on the dreaded ramp.                   Photo:SUPPLIED

Rev Aydn Wilson, ably assisted by Gerrie van der Voorst, takes on the dreaded ramp. Photo:SUPPLIED

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WHEELCHAIR Wednesday, an initiative steered by the Association for Persons with Disabilities (APD) in the Nelson Mandela Bay, challenges present and future business and community leaders to spend four hours in a wheelchair.

Facing the same challenges that many people who use wheelchairs experience on a daily basis, it is their hope that Nelson Mandela Bay’s leaders will focus more attention on improving accessibility within all aspects of the city.

Week four got off to a rather wettish start. The 30 nervous participants in this week’s Wheelchair Wednesday Four Hour Challenge soon started concentrating on factors within their surroundings that previously went unnoticed.

Rev Aydn Wilson commented, “No amount of chatting to other folk regarding this challenge could ever compare to the actual experience itself. What do I mean?

“Well for starters, the awareness of the slightest bump or incline came with a magnification I could never have imagined.

“The limitations of being confined to the wheelchair and the thought that this is what many folk have to experience permanently gave me a sense of respect and admiration for the apparatus-dependent folk in our community.

“They may be seen as physically disabled, but I see them as being among the strongest, from a mental fitness and determination point of view. The first challenge came as we departed and moved off to our vehicles.

“There was no ramp nearby so that we could get from the pavement to the parking lot. I asked the car guard where the ramp was and was told it was some distance further down.

“So, a disabled person needs to go three times the distance to get off the pavement!

“Tell an able-bodied person to walk the distance and no doubt the moaning will be substantial. Oh boy, what a wake-up call for me. At the police station I encountered a minor bump in the ramp half way up as the structure appears to have moved/been cracked and caused a height difference. This was a challenge for me and I needed help to navigate over it. A simple bit of masonry work would solve it. But this is not something I would ever have noticed before.”

Wilson continued, “At the Sunridge Shopping Centre, the bathroom break came with an unexpected twist. The disabled toilet was right on hand (Smiley face) and easily accessible, but the problem was that I had to go in backwards if I need to use the toilet in my “disabled state”. Is this how it is for the disabled folk wanting to go to the bathroom at other venues as well?

“Tell an able-bodied person that to save costs, the toilets will be narrowed and you have to enter backwards! Was it just my stupidity or lack of experience but I tried for some time and this was the only way I could see it would work.”

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