Pictou County officials got a new outlook on life last week as they took the time to spend a few hours in someone else’s shoes… or wheelchair.
During a walkabout with some members of an Aging Well Together Coalition, elected officials and other town employees got a feel for what every day can be like for someone with accessibility issues or in the senior population. November is Fall Prevention Month, aimed at raising awareness of just how easy it is to fall and be injured as well as how many seniors are affected each year.
“The role-playing exercise allowed me to see obstacles that I didn’t think were issues,” said Sam Graham, head of Westville’s Town Works department. Graham stood in for Westville Mayor Roger MacKay.
New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks spent the morning touring three blocks of New Glasgow’s downtown in a manual wheelchair to get the feel for accessibility needs. Dicks’ first challenge came before she even made it away from town hall where they began. Trying to get in the wheelchair accessible entrance was challenging and required some help. Along with this, sidewalk and road levels were not even and she had trouble making her way back on the sidewalk after using a crosswalk.
“It was extremely challenging,” she said.
Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan spent his morning navigating Pictou in a walker discovering the difficulty many may have while trying to access different services.
“The walker experience was very similar,” he noted, relating to the statements from Dicks on the difficulty she had navigating. Each of the participants agreed that the experience was very illuminating as to what some people have to deal with every day just to access basic services or be able to move around their community.
“What an eye opener today,” said Dicks.
Krista Cullen of the Nova Scotia Health Authority assists New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks as she attempts to get into New Glasgow Town Hall while in a wheelchair. The activity was conducted to raise accessibility awareness for those of all abilities and ages.