Thursday, March 8, 2012

UNLESS someone like you cares - wheelchair accessibility

Picnicking with McDonald’s french fries under sunny skies on a 66˚F (18.8˚C)afternoon only got better when followed by a movie and popcorn. In Patti’sworld, after two decades of Multiple Sclerosis sometimes eating for tastetrumps eating for health.

While dysphagia is always a clear and present danger at least thesecomfort foods require no assistance for self-feeding and are easy to monitor.Empowerment can also be a treat.  

"The Lorax" was 90 minutes of pure enjoyment, practicallyan animated musical. Of course there was a 'message' about protecting theenvironment but as with all Seuss stories the telling of the story is just sodarn entertaining and fun.

While we are blessed to own a wheelchair accessible van that empowersPatti’s freedom, not everyone is. Perhaps even most families caring for some needing a wheelchair do not.

With budget cuts looming, people in wheelchairs, their caregiversand families that depend on subsidized public accessible transportation orcontracted providers face an unknown tomorrow. Everything from access tomedical care to independence to access to family and friends could shrink.

Like everywhere, Pennsylvania’s budget in these economic times is createdwith scissors. Gov. Corbett is proposing $620 million in cuts to human servicesprograms; $422 million from basic education on top of the $765 million cut fromlast year’s budget, 20% cuts to colleges, 35% from State parks, and ‘zerofunding’ for public transportation.

Yet this is democracy and these are ‘proposed cuts’ it is time forall interested parties to speak up and be heard. 

MS Awareness in particular is not about one month or one week a year or glitzy ad campaigns. It's about keeping your eyes, ears, and mouth open.

That’s why I found this most disturbing for it is the double whammyof cuts to social services and zero public transportation funding that couldmost affect the lives of those needing wheelchairs. “Able-bodied people hadunfettered access to stairs and elevators that lead to Gov. Tom Corbett’soffice on Wednesday. People in wheelchairs did not.” Disability activists targeted in enforcement of Pa. State Capitol's restricted access policy

"UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing's going to get better: it's not."
“The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer