In this blog, I’m asking for your advice. I hope you can help me.
Last week I talked about what self-advocacy meant to me. I forgot to mention that sometimes advocating for yourself can be really confusing and scary because sometimes when you know that there is a problem, you might not be sure what to do about it. I was reminded of this yesterday.
As a lot of you know, I use a wheelchair to get around. I have a motorized wheelchair & a wheelchair without a motor. Depending on where I’m going, I choose which wheelchair to use.
I went up to the University of Maine in Orono to give a talk about living with a disability. Maryann Preble was also there and she was really amazing! However, getting to the presentation and getting home was quite the adventure!
I wanted to get on the 10 o’clock bus, with my motorized wheelchair. However, when the 10 o’clock bus came, the door to the wheelchair lift wouldn’t open. This bus was one of the older buses. There are also newer buses that work really well. I went on the 11 o’clock bus (a newer bus).
The presentation was over at 3. However, when I went to take the bus home, I realized that it was the same bus that I couldn’t get on in the morning. I took another bus home an hour later (again, a newer bus).
When I was almost at my stop to get off the bus, there was a big fair going on my street, so the bus couldn’t get to the bus stop. The bus driver had to drop me off about 2 blocks away.
I think a lot of people who are able to walk don’t realize how bad a lot of the sidewalks are. A lot of them are really old, broken (there are lots of pieces missing in them) & it’s really scary when you use a wheelchair because I went really slowly to make sure that I wouldn’t tip my wheelchair over. I was so nervous the whole time. What should have been a 5 minute trip took me 25. What if I hadn’t been in my motorized wheelchair? What if I had to push myself or used a walker? I might have fallen & been really hurt. By the time I got home, I was really angry at the town of Old Town!
I was also really confused. Who could I talk to about the sidewalks? Are there things that can be done? Would people listen to me? Would people care? What are things I can do to make people pay attention? All these questions were swirling in my head.
I know that I want to do something. To be honest, I’m not sure what to do about it, yet. I guess one thing that I want to say to everybody is that sometimes advocacy can be really confusing because sometimes you just don’t know what to do and that’s okay.
At that point, one thing you can do is ask people for help and advice. So, that’s exactly what I’m going to do!
For anybody who reads this blog, I wanted to ask: What are some things that I can do to at least try to improve sidewalks in my town? Please leave a comment below, I’d really appreciate it.
Until next time,