International Day Of People With a Disability15 Dec 2009
I went out on the 3rd December to Picton Bowling club for the International Day Of People With a Disability. They have an annual breakfast on this day every year to celebrate what people with disabilities have achieved.
They have a different theme every year, one year was about the vision impaired so they got everyone to eat their breakfast with a blindfold on. This year's theme was about transport, I was asked to be a guest speaker and talk about my car, how it has been modified and what it means for me to be given a level of independence I never dreamt possible.
I created a slideshow that was displayed up behind me with pictures of my cars conversions and brief descriptions of how everything works.
I told them that I never imagined anyone in their right mind would give me a licence considering that I have brittle bones. Luckily though, I was blessed and have been driving for almost 9 years now, so I have lots of experience when it comes to how to get a licence, getting modifications done and what car is right for your needs.
So I spoke to over a hundred people about my personal experiences with driving, including a funny experience I had one day with my hoist..... I was on my way to the shops and it was a windy day, when it's windy or I have to travel on a motorway or somewhere where the speed limit is high, I secure my chair to the hoist with an Ocky strap, this day, I decided not to, big mistake. I was driving along when I heard a loud thud, I didn't know what it could've been and I continued driving. I got to the shops and tried to get my chair down off my roof and it wouldn't budge, it had flipped over to the other side of the roof and I had to stop a man who was walking past to ask him to flip my chair back the right way so I could get it down. So I warn anyone with a wheelchair hoist, if you are travelling at high speeds or on a windy day, tie down your chair!
I was invited to speak by Gay, who is a member of Wollondilly Council and the mother of a dear friend of mine, Rebecca. Gay has known me my entire life and had some questions of her own to ask me, including what was the biggest hurdle I have had to overcome relating to my disability. My answer was simply, transport. Without my car, I don't know what I would've done for a lot of things in my life. When I got my licence, I lived at Glossodia, which is a small town with only buses for public transport, they weren't wheelchair friendly so I wouldn't have been able to catch a bus anywhere. Taxis were just way too expensive and I couldn't rely on my mum to drive me everywhere as she worked full time.
If I was unable to get my licence, my life may have turned out completely different, socialising would've been harder, getting a job, going to TAFE and meeting new people. Unfortunately, so many people have this problem because they either can't afford to get a car modified or they are unable to drive due to their disability.
So next time you're driving your old car, complaining about what a lemon it is, think about how lucky you are to be able to have the freedom to drive because so many people don't even have that choice.