This past week I went to the nearest Lidl to do shopping. I took the decision to go in my wheelchair with my Personal Assistant rather than to hire a van. I was struck by the number of big emptied wheelie bins that were nearly out on the middle of the footpath—so much so that we had to go all the way around them as the safest option in some places. Why can’t the waste companies put the bins back closer to the houses? I am lucky that I had somebody to help me, but what about wheelchair users who have nobody to help them navigate up and down footpaths? It’s not just the wheelie bins that are obstacles, but dog messes and chewing gum are problems, too. If you are unlucky enough to roll into a dog mess or a clump of sticky chewing gum as a wheelchair user, it’s very hard to clean the wheels when you arrive at your destination. In my opinion children should start learning from a very early age that it is better to keep the environment clean. Each school year they can learn how to have more involvement in cleaning the local area. As adults they would know how important it is to clean up after pets and not to throw chewing gum anywhere but in the bin. In Ireland we have a competition called Tidy Towns with local sponsors. Children today might already be part of keeping the town clean. If they are, then it is a great step in the right direction. I am a great advocate of positive reinforcement. This type of ordinary civic education should continue beyond primary school to secondary school. Then families wouldn’t leave dirty stuff in parks or footpaths. I know I started this blog by taking about wheelchair obstacles, but I am great believer that if you do things for people with disabilities, you usually end up helping the rest of the population as well.
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