Before I became unwell, I loved going for long walks through the countryside. Another favourite was cycle rides along canal paths. I miss those days so I quite often go along the canal path in my wheelchair.
One of the things that I find interesting is the way that other people react to a wheelchair being used somewhere other than a roadside pavement.
Yesterday I went along the canal path and a man walking in the other direction stopped me. "Out for an adventure, are we? "He said.
I smiled back and answered, "Yep!"
It was interesting because he was clearly surprised to see a wheelchair on the canal path. He was being friendly but I still got the feeling that I shouldn't have been on the canal path in my wheelchair. Often when I'm in public spaces I feel like my wheelchair is in the way and that society expects wheelchair users to stay at home. It can be very difficult for people living with disabilities to go out when they constantly receive subliminal messages that disabilities aren't compatible with our society. This is magnified for people who are affected by social anxiety. How would you feel if every time you tried to leave the house, something told you that nobody wanted you to go out?
The man who spoke to me didn't intend to upset me. This post is not a criticism of him. This example illustrates a wider view prevalent in our society that needs to change. I'm a wheelchair user but I love the countryside. That isn't weird. I have every right to roll along canal paths. So does every other person living with disabilities.
#ProjectLetMeIn #LetMeIn #DisabilityAwareness