Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Accessible Transportation Needs to Include Personal Mobility

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 5:28 pm on Friday, September 28, 2007

A young Glenda in her Brownie uniform

In two weeks, I’ll be flying to Smithers for the Social Planning and Research Council’s (SPARC) board meeting on October 12th and 13th. I have also been asked to speak about my lived experiences around community involvement and transportation at the Accessibility Dialogue on the Thursday.

When the topic was given to me, a flood of memories came to mind about how Mom would toss my red manual wheelchair into the car and off I’d go to my weekly Brownie meetings or on a weekend family camping trip or down to the stables to go horseback riding.

Glenda, in her electric scooter, leading the horse Sparkles

When I got my first electric scooter back in Grade Eight, it was a new sense of independence for me. I no longer had to rely on others to push my wheelchair. I was so excited about the freedom to go where I wanted, whenever I wanted! It meant that I could go to my friend’s house around the corner by myself. And, Mom was still able to disassemble it and lift the parts into the van.

While at university, there became a need for me to have a more powerful scooter to get safely around campus. The scooter gave me greater independence in the sense that I could go further on my own. But, that independence came at a price. My Mom and friends could no longer easily toss my scooter into the vehicle like they did before.

Darrell and Glenda wheeling around False Creek, Vancouver, BC

Now, with my outside scooter, my world has shrunk to the accessible bus routes and Skytrain lines. I’d love to go horseback riding again, but there isn’t a Skytrain station within close proximity to the riding stables. I’d love to try sit-skiing atop Whistler Mountain, but the mere thought of trying to arrange transportation for both Darrell and I zaps my energy!

Drafting my speech for the Accessibility Dialogue, I realized how transportation for those with mobility disabilities actually entails two components: getting from Point A to B, and getting around once at B. And, unless you have the financial means to buy a lift-equipped (and, in our case, a chauffer), these two components are interrelated, often with a trade-off between the two. Also, that combined transportation can greatly impact one’s involvement in the community.

My greatest sense of freedom (other than being atop of a horse) is scooting down the sidewalk, in total control of where I am going, with a contagious smile across my face….until I run out of accessible sidewalk!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by James Forliti

September 28, 2007 @ 11:55 pm

Hi Glenda!

I just heard of you and your website from an amazing Mom (Lori-ann) with a spectacular boy,Curtis. Your “terebral palsy” piece is splendid. My son, Blue, will be ten next month, and I have had so many moments like this. . . argh! Lately, I’ve started answering the old, “What does he have?” question like this: “Well, you see, he has a rare and strange condition. You know how it’s commonly held that ‘nobody’s perfect? Well, he is. He’s the only perfect person in the world. And me, how can I possibly be his Dad? We’re in quite a predicament as you can see. . .” By that time, they have gone far beyond a gulping silence, and I don’t have to deal with the terrible palsy anymore.
I also, have a second line of defense which is honestly quite a bit more caustic, but maybe I’ll tell you that one later.

– James Forliti, Blue’s Dad.

Comment by Karen Putz

September 30, 2007 @ 6:01 pm

Ok, looks like you’ll need to rocket your book to the best-seller list and then you can afford a personal driver and meet me at Whistler!

Oh wait, that means I need to write my own book to afford my ticket to Whistler. 🙂

Comment by Glenda

October 1, 2007 @ 11:22 am

Hi James, and welcome! I love your comeback line when terrible palsy. Their reactions must be priceless! Please do share your more caustic response when you have a moment.

Sounds like a plan, Karen. There is a “Sell your book by the truckload” seminar in Philadelphia the same time I’m in Vegas for BlogWorld. What is a girl to do!

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