Let’s Talk About It: Moving beyond limitations

Photo by Hayley Juhl

During my recent holiday I was denied my preferred aisle seat on the plane because I had not checked in early enough. I was seated next to an older lady who required the aisle seat due to her physical disability. Sitting beside her was her daughter. They were traveling together on their very first cruise, to Alaska no less.

Although I felt uncomfortable asking this lady to allow me access to the aisle, I had no choice. I apologized both to her and her daughter who had to help her stand up to let me through. My apologies were ignored and the older woman pleasantly explained that it was good for her to move her legs. Rather than being upset she sounded grateful for the opportunity to move. This was a long flight and after a few cups of tea I had to ask her to move again. Her positive attitude remained the same, which led me to think about people who don’t allow their physical limitations to affect their adventures.

I meet many people who are faced with physical challenges. It is their response to these challenges that makes a world of difference in how they face life. Some are embarrassed by having to rely on canes, walkers or wheelchairs and often won’t participate in activities that involve having to use such aids. This means missing out on many opportunities that would provide pleasure in their daily lives.

Airlines, hotels, cruise lines all offer assistance and adapted rooms for the physically challenged. Learning, exploring, and traveling should not be abandoned as bodies age and assistance is needed in daily activities. On my vacation, which included a cruise, I noted several people with wheelchairs, walkers and canes. This did not stop them from participating in new adventures.

We work hard during our lives, often waiting for our retirement years to explore the world. Our bodies may slow down or we may have medical issues that making our anticipated adventures more challenging. But a positive attitude will help us to fulfill our dreams.

Our cities are equipped with reserved handicapped parking spaces and sidewalks with wheel chair access. Banks now have areas for those with physical challenges to sit while waiting for a teller. Some banks have seats at the teller’s counter. I have visited cities where buses have special ramps for
wheelchairs. Many venues for concerts, films and theatre have special seating areas to accommodate wheelchairs.

There was a time when back pain affected my daily life. I needed to sit after a few minutes. I became aware of how few benches there were in the city. Some bus stops had no seats, and stores and malls had few.

Communities can and should do more to provide comfort to those needing physical assistance. We need to make our cities friendlier for the physically challenged. Stopping postal service to homes, as promised by Canada Post, would be a burden to those who are physically challenged or have health issues. Here’s hoping our city realizes that we need to find ways to make life easier for those in need.

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