Make Way Day puts ac­cess on the agenda

Wicklow People - - NEWS - By MARY FOGARTY

DIS­ABIL­ITY groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions took part in the first ever na­tional ‘Make Way Day’ re­cently to give a gen­tle re­minder to the pub­lic to make way for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

Wick­low County Coun­cil was one of 18 coun­cils tak­ing part in the event on Wed­nes­day, Septem­ber 26.

Dis­abil­ity groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions from Bray, Wick­low, Ark­low and Balt­in­glass took to the streets to high­light com­mon ob­sta­cles, such as cars and vans parked on a path; bikes and mo­tor­bikes chained to lamp­posts cre­at­ing trip haz­ards for vis­ually-im­paired peo­ple; il­le­gally placed sand­wich boards; for­got­ten bins, bar­rels, and other ob­struc­tions.

There was a blitz of videos and pho­to­graphs up­loaded to so­cial me­dia with the hash­tags #MakeWayDay and #MakeWayWick­low on the day. This re­sulted in the cam­paign ‘trend­ing’ or be­ing the num­ber one thing men­tioned on so­cial me­dia in Ire­land that day.

Groups tak­ing part in­cluded Bray Area Part­ner­ships Dis­abil­ity Net­work, Dis­abil­ity Ac­tion To­gether North Wick­low, the lo­cal branch of the MS So­ci­ety, Caird­eas Club­house in Bray, Wick­low Lo­cal Author­ity Ac­cess Group, Ir­ish Wheel­chair As­so­ci­a­tion in Ark­low, Ac­quired Brain In­jury Ire­land in Wick­low town and KARE in Bless­ing­ton and Balt­in­glass.

Led by the Dis­abil­ity Fed­er­a­tion of Ire­land, 18 of the coun­try’s lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, the Ir­ish Wheel­chair As­so­ci­a­tion and En­able Ire­land came to­gether to call for greater pub­lic aware­ness of the needs of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in the pub­lic spa­ces we all share.

They be­lieve thought­less­ness and gen­uine lack of aware­ness is be­hind most in­stances like those listed.

‘Make Way Day gives ev­ery sin­gle one of us an op­por­tu­nity to be more mind­ful of the 13% of the Ir­ish pop­u­la­tion who have a dis­abil­ity. Bring­ing in your bin early in the day, or clip­ping your hedge might not seem that im­por­tant, but it’s a small ac­tion with a big im­pact for a neigh­bour, who oth­er­wise might not be able to get down the street.’

Lo­cal ac­tivist and dis­abil­ity cam­paigner, Martin Flanagan from Grey­stones was among those tak­ing part in the cam­paign. ‘There have been days where there have been so many ob­sta­cles in my way, I’ve had to go on the road in my pow­er­chair to avoid them. This is very dan­ger­ous for me. Some foot­paths in Grey­stones and Bray could re­ally be im­proved, if peo­ple were more aware,’ he said.

To join lo­cal cam­paign­ers in rais­ing aware­ness of sim­i­lar is­sues, con­tact, Laura English on 086 8206726 or email lau­raenglish@dis­abil­ity-fed­er­a­tion.ie

Par­tic­i­pants in the ‘Make Way Day’ get­ting ready to high­light un­nec­es­sary ob­sta­cles in Bray.

Mark McHugh tak­ing care of his dog at the bless­ing of the an­i­mals at the Holy Redeemer Church in Bray.

Laura Whit­more.

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