When I was a teenager I started volunteering with the Adapted Aquatics swim program at Dalewood Recreation Centre. I started going with some friends who, like me, wanted to get out of going to early Sunday morning Mass. My swimming experiences were more of a blessing than church in my opinion; I have blogged about that experience previously.
While participating in the swimming program I learned a lot about the general public’s attitude to disability; for some it was normal and others not so much. I was also struck by the attitude of some of the adults that organized the swim program and how they thought some youth with disabilities would not have ‘normal’ lives.
These early experiences meant that since I was young I have watched out for curb cuts, accessibility access to buildings, and noticed things like bad mall design.
I’ve witnessed a general attitude and ignorance around disability to close friends as well. When my good friend Sally (who uses a wheelchair) and I go shopping we will be out doing our thing and not very quietly either. Despite this, I’ve seen store clerks ignore Sally when we get to the cash. Too many times I’ve seen clerks assume her brain does not work just because her legs do not.
Recently, I saw a party of three at the new outdoor Centre Mall almost get injured or worse, killed. A mom was pushing someone in a stroller, walking next to someone in a wheelchair, during a bad storm. These three almost got run over by a huge green truck. I contacted some city Councillors and they all agreed that the Centre Mall renovations are badly done. However, developers keep making similar changes.
Due to these reasons and many more, I started Accessible Hamilton as I am very concerned about accessibility in the city and I seek to advocate more effectively. My hope is to ensure that ALL citizens in Hamilton can move around easily and safely in public, municipal, and private places.
Beginning only last year in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, so far we’ve had advocacy conversations started with Hamilton city planners and politicians. Three public meetings have been held thus far as well.
If you are interested in contributing to this conversation, come and discuss what accessibility means to you. Our next meeting is on March 3, 2018. The details are on our Facebook page or email ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ for further meeting details.
Susan Creer – Accessible Hamilton – Chair
– Event Management – Convention & Meeting, 2012
*Accessible Hamilton’s goal is to ensure Hamilton is truly accessible for all. The objective is for the whole City to be completely barrier free, in attitude and design.