Gatton Star - - FRONT PAGE - Meg Bolton Meg.bolton@gat­ton­star.com.au

LOCHLAN Thomas is ready for Lock­yer Val­ley rep­re­sen­ta­tives and com­mu­nity mem­bers to ex­pe­ri­ence just a frac­tion of his ev­ery­day life.

This Fri­day, the 18-year-old, who has been in a wheel­chair since birth, will lead par­tic­i­pants of the 24-hour wheel­chair chal­lenge across the re­gion in a bid to im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

Mr Thomas hoped the chal­lenge would also high­light the chal­lenges he faced every day.

“They will ex­pe­ri­ence what it’s like liv­ing day-to­day life in a wheel­chair and show­ing them ba­si­cally the ins and outs of what I have to go through to live a daily lifestyle,” Mr Thomas said.

Ac­ces­si­bil­ity has been an is­sue his whole life but since mov­ing to the Lock­yer Val­ley six months ago it has been even more dif­fi­cult.

Mr Thomas said ma­noeu­vring around Gat­ton was quite the chal­lenge as some of the foot­paths were not com­pat­i­ble with wheel­chair use.

“Get­ting into some of the lo­cal busi­nesses in town is just a night­mare be­cause half of them aren’t wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble,” he said.

Even short trips to the cor­ner shop on his elec­tric mo­bil­ity chair are a has­sle for the young adult as cars of­ten block the foot­path.

“I have to go down on the road and come onto on­com­ing traf­fic,” he said.

Mem­ber for Lock­yer Jim Mcdon­ald, along with Lock­yer Val­ley coun­cil­lors Chris Wil­son and Michael Hagan, are just some of par­tic­i­pants who will spend 24 hours re­stricted to a wheel­chair.

Start­ing in Gat­ton, par­tic­i­pants will travel to var­i­ous lo­ca­tions across the re­gion to ex­pe­ri­ence life in a wheel­chair.

Mr Thomas said their ex­pe­ri­ence would be an “eye-opener”.

Lock­yer Val­ley Ro­tary club pres­i­dent Regina Samykanu hoped the chal­lenge raised enough money to make Ro­tary Park wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble.

“If some­one wants to go and have a bar­be­cue they should be able to with­out call­ing two or three peo­ple to have them,” she said.

The chal­lenge will fin­ish at Ro­tary Park at 11am on Satur­day, where ev­ery­one is wel­come to join par­tic­i­pants for a bar­be­cue.


THROUGH HIS EYES: Lochlan Thomas hopes par­tic­i­pants of the wheel­chair chal­lenge will re­alise his day-to-day strug­gles.

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