Some see phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions as just an­other chal­lenge

Cape Breton Post - - COMMENT -

I take ex­cep­tion to a num­ber of David MacK­in­non’s as­ser­tions (Put the Em­pha­sis on Safety In­stead of At­tack­ing ATVs, Week­end Feed­back, Jan. 23). Chris Mil­burn’s orig­i­nal point (ATVs Too Danger­ous for Pub­lic to Sup­port, Jan. 19) was not that all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles should be banned but that they should be more tightly reg­u­lated and, more im­por­tant, that our tax dol­lars should not be used to pro­mote an ac­tiv­ity that is in­her­ently danger­ous and en­vi­ron­men­tally de­struc­tive.

While it’s true that al­most any out­door ac­tiv­ity car­ries some risk, our tax dol­lars should be used to pro­mote ac­tiv­i­ties (and cre­ate in­fra­struc­ture) that will get peo­ple more phys­i­cally ac­tive.

MacK­in­non as­serts that ATVing gets dis­abled peo­ple “off the couch” and that “not all are suited to triathlons as Chris Mil­burn is.” Is he im­ply­ing that dis­abled peo­ple can’t be phys­i­cally ac­tive? What about the dis­abled peo­ple who would like to be ac­tive on trails but are too afraid to ven­ture out with their wheel­chairs and walk­ers and white canes onto what the ATVers hi­lar­i­ously call shared-use trails?

For most of us, dis­abled or oth­er­wise, shar­ing a trail with a mo­tor­ized ve­hi­cle is roughly akin to shar­ing the Trans-Canada High­way with a jumbo jet. A run­way may look like a high­way but there’s a rea­son keep them sep­a­rate.

And, for the record, here’s a list of peo­ple who’ve com­pleted the Iron­man, the sport of triathlon’s long­est and most gru­elling race: a 78-year-old nun, a dou­ble leg am­putee, sev­eral para­plegics (us­ing hand cy­cles), blind peo­ple (with guides), a young man with se­vere cere­bral palsy (pushed by his fa­ther, who had sur­vived two heart at­tacks), an 80-year-old man, a man with AIDS, a man with ALS (Lou Gherig’s dis­ease), sev­eral peo­ple with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, count­less sur­vivors of can­cer, and peo­ple with trau­matic brain in­jury, or­gan trans­plants, men­tal ill­ness, ad­dic­tion, mor­bid obe­sity and var­i­ous other ill­nesses and dis­abil­i­ties.

One of the best pro­fes­sional triath­letes in Cana­dian his­tory, Lisa Bent­ley, suf­fers from cys­tic fi­bro­sis. I could go on all day about this, but you get the point.

While some peo­ple may choose to sit on stinky, loud, mo­tor­ized ve­hi­cles rather than get some ex­er­cise, there are very few peo­ple who are not “suited” to even the most gru­elling phys­i­cal chal­lenges.

So please, Mr. MacK­in­non, don’t add your voice to the cho­rus of those who tell Cape Bre­ton­ers – and par­tic­u­larly dis­abled Cape Bre­ton­ers – what they can’t do, what they are not “suited” for. We’ve heard enough of that al­ready.

And count me among the ma­jor­ity of Nova Sco­tians who are fum­ing like ATV tailpipes about where our tax dol­lars are be­ing spent. Julie Cur­win Syd­ney Ed­i­tor’s note: Com­ments in MacK­in­non’s pub­lished let­ter about get­ting peo­ple “off the couch” and not every­one be­ing suited to triathlons re­ferred to “ hand­i­capped as well as ... the able-bod­ied,” and not ex­clu­sively to dis­abled peo­ple.

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