Living Life

Jesus, Me, and the Kitchen Table

Getting Around

It seems that nearly every profession and many causes have a national holiday.  In April we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week and so far in May we have paid tribute to all those in the nursing field.  But one you may not have heard of for the month of May is National Mobility Awareness.  According to the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association website, in North America over 18 million people live with restricted mobility.  But you don’t have to be in a wheelchair to have restricted mobility. There are numerous health conditions which can limit one’s mobility such as spinal cord injury, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and more. People with limited mobility may use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or crutches to move around.

People with mobility restrictions either cannot walk or can only walk very short distances. They may find it hard to move around in small places, negotiate steps, open doors, carry items (while using mobility devices), reaching things on high shelves, or picking up objects dropped on the floor, balancing, standing or standing for prolonged periods. Weather can be a concern as well.  If it is raining how will one hold an umbrella and push a wheelchair?

Another aspect to think bout is parking spots.  There are two basic kinds of parking spaces reserved for those with restrictive mobility. You have the “Reserved Parking” and “Reserved Parking Van Accessible” handicap parking spaces. The first type is for any vehicle properly displaying a handicap placard or handicap license plates.  The “Van Accessible” spots are for, well, VANS! That’s because these spots are accompanied by a wide set of stripes to the left or right of the space. Those stripes allow a van ramp or a lift to be used.  Drivers should never park on the stripes!  Doing so prevents a person who is in a wheelchair accessible van from entering or exiting their vehicle and readers that parking space useless.

During the month of May the National Mobility Equipment Dealers is giving away several vehicles that are accessible.You can go to their website at http://www.nmeda.org and vote for the candidate of your choice to win one of these vehicles.  These vehicles are not cheap.  If you take the cost of an average new minivan, you are looking at $30-40,000. Add on the modifications and you can easily be looking at an additional $20,000.

As you are out and about and enjoying your mobility this month be aware of those around you who can’t move about as easily. Look for ways that you may can lend a helping hand, but be okay if the person declines the offer. Many times people are grateful for your help and other times they may be able to do it themselves. But don’t be afraid to ask!  Don’t be afraid to talk to a person who is in a wheelchair. Remember that just because someone has physical limitations doesn’t mean they aren’t a genius! Most people with disabilities have the same desires as non disabled persons – just to be accepted and live as normal a life as possible. Many people with mobility restrictions have a job, children, interests and abilities similar or different to those of others. Let’s get moving!

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