Make Way Day puts access on the agenda
Disability groups and organisations took part in the first ever national 'Make Way Day' recently to give a gentle reminder to the public to make way for people with disabilities.
Wicklow County Council was one of 18 councils taking part in the event on Wednesday, September 26.
Disability groups and organisations from Bray, Wicklow, Arklow and Baltinglass took to the streets to highlight common obstacles, such as cars and vans parked on a path; bikes and motorbikes chained to lampposts creating trip hazards for visually-impaired people; illegally placed sandwich boards; forgotten bins, barrels, and other obstructions.
There was a blitz of videos and photographs uploaded to social media with the hashtags #MakeWayDay and #MakeWayWicklow on the day. This resulted in the campaign 'trending' or being the number one thing mentioned on social media in Ireland that day.
Groups taking part included Bray Area Partnerships Disability Network, Disability Action Together North Wicklow, the local branch of the MS Society, Cairdeas Clubhouse in Bray, Wicklow Local Authority Access Group, Irish Wheelchair Association in Arklow, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland in Wicklow town and KARE in Blessington and Baltinglass.
Led by the Disability Federation of Ireland, 18 of the country's local authorities, the Irish Wheelchair Association and Enable Ireland came together to call for greater public awareness of the needs of people with disabilities in the public spaces we all share.
They believe thoughtlessness and genuine lack of awareness is behind most instances like those listed.
'Make Way Day gives every single one of us an opportunity to be more mindful of the 13% of the Irish population who have a disability. Bringing in your bin early in the day, or clipping your hedge might not seem that important, but it's a small action with a big impact for a neighbour, who otherwise might not be able to get down the street.'
Local activist and disability campaigner, Martin Flanagan from Greystones was among those taking part in the campaign. 'There have been days where there have been so many obstacles in my way, I've had to go on the road in my powerchair to avoid them. This is very dangerous for me. Some footpaths in Greystones and Bray could really be improved, if people were more aware,' he said.
To join local campaigners in raising awareness of similar issues, contact, Laura English on 086 8206726 or email firstname.lastname@example.org