Chris Schamber suffers from a spinal cord injury and now relies on a motorized wheelchair to get around. He faces accessibility challenges on a daily basis.
“I had my [accident] 29 years ago, and when I was walking around I didn’t notice things people in wheelchairs faced,” he said.
The 4th Annual Chair-Leaders Event is hoping to increase awareness of accessibility, or lack thereof, for people living with mobility issues.
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“Barriers can be as simple as a curb or a step,” Dylan Adkins, regional coordinator for Spinal Cord Injury Alberta said. “For someone in a wheelchair, that’s something that is really difficult to get around.”
To increase awareness, community leaders have volunteered to spend a day confined to a wheelchair, including Lethbridge MP Rachael Harder.
“I think for me, this is an opportunity to really put myself in their shoes, so to speak,” Harder said.
“I have the chance to go out into the community and really experience Lethbridge through the eyes of someone who relies on a wheelchair to get around on a day-to-day basis.”
Schamber said by getting policy makers, like Members of Parliament and MLAs involved, things are more likely to change.
“If we can get the people in charge to recognize things that need to be adjusted in the future, then the whole society will benefit,” Schamber said.
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Schamber took Harder on a tour of the city in a motorized wheelchair to demonstrate old and new infrastructure that is both helping and hindering those with mobility issues.
Harder said it is important for her and other community leaders to see firsthand what barriers people in the community are facing.
“I don’t think the common person understands exactly all of the barriers that are in place with regard to mobility in Lethbridge,” Harder said. “[That prevent those from] being able to access those community resources, which allow people to participate and really feel a part of our community.”