It would be so easy to fall into self pity & not leave my bed, but every morning I drag my body into my wheelchair and take Kuno out for his morning walk. He reports the local weather on Twitter so canines in the area can plan their day, and we head home for breakfast. Sun, rain, snow. We do this every day. Kuno has also become an part of an incredible online platform to help raise awareness about barriers faced by the disabled.
Most people don't intentionally create barriers. They simply aren't aware that they exist. However in a world filled with anger & negativity, complaining about these challenges often results in people being tuned out. When we help inform people of these challenges through the eyes of a loving, gentle giant they stop and listen. A seed gets planted and hopefully they start to consider how situations affect others.
People often don't realize that a section of sidewalk where the snow hasn't been cleared can stop us from getting to the bus. Or that when a curbcut is blocked by ice, we have no way to cross the street. They don't realize that despite many apartment complexes with ramps & elevators, almost none have units that can fit a wheelchair through the bathroom door. They don't consider that in order to get somewhere with a power wheelchair requires having an accessible vehicle.
Kuno and I have big goals. We'd like to work with businesses to try and help them become more accessible & more inclusive. Often we're limited to the big box places as they are the only ones easy to navigate. People tend to think that little blue accessibility sign means much more than it does. It might get us in the door, but it doesn't mean we can be involved in what's inside the door. We want to help change that. We want to help change the mindset that someone with a severe disability just stays home and exists. And we want to show how having an animal gives a person the strength & courage to face a world that has become terrifying & dangerous to them.
The number one thing that holds us back is transportation. Accessible bussing is a great option...during non peak hours in the summer months. In the winter we can seldom cross the streets to get back & forth to many stops. During busy peak hours it's very difficult to fit a chair and large dog in the small section of a bus designated for those with mobility issues. I'm often bumped by people and Kuno gets stepped on or even ran over by walkers being used by individuals that need a device to walk. Without our own vehicle we can't even leave the city.
In order to be independent & get out in the world we need a vehicle. Unfortunately accessible vehicles are extremely expensive. Unless a person becomes disabled in an accident that results in a settlement, loss of mobility often results in loss of independence because of costs of adaptive equipment. For those of us that lose multiple limbs from infections or illness, even accidental death and loss of use insurance can't help. This means our only hope is through fundraising.
A van with a power ramp & hand controls is often upward of $80,000.00 Generally the conversion involves lowering the floor which is quite costly. With a vehicle we can be out there making a difference in the world. We can be so much more independent.
If you can help, even a little, it would mean a lot to us. It would give us the chance to go out in the world and hopefully help make it a better, brighter place.
- owena corey
- Brenda Van Dyk
- Michaela Clutter
- Janet VanEtten
- Lynda Riley
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