Annual day celebrates ‘independence’ for wheelchair-users


theweek120by150A disabled campaigner is hoping disabled people in the UK and around the world will use an annual day to celebrate the independence provided by their wheelchair.

Steve Wilkinson launched International Wheelchair Day five years ago, and although it has yet to take off in the UK, there were events last year in both Nepal and Australia.

He wants wheelchair-users to mark the day – 1 March – in their own way, either through an organised event or a small personal celebration of “the positive impact a wheelchair has had in their lives”.

IWD also aims to raise awareness of the access challenges still facing wheelchair-users, and focus on the estimated 100 million disabled people worldwide who do not have the wheelchairs they need.

Wilkinson said: “The day is for all wheelchair-users around the world to celebrate what wheelchairs can do for them. A wheelchair gives people the freedom they wouldn’t [otherwise]have.”

For the first few years, he used IWD to blog about wheelchair-related issues, but last year, there was a rally on 1 March of more than 90 wheelchair-users calling for better access in Kathmandu, Nepal, while Wilkinson himself attended an event in Adelaide, South Australia.

This year, there will be another event in Adelaide, due to be opened by Tony Piccolo, South Australia’s minister for disabilities.

And in Cape Town, South Africa, fundraisers will be using IWD to hand over bags full of bread tags – plastic tags used to tie bread bags – that have been collected for the charity Bread Tags for Wheelchairs.

For every 10 kg of bread tags, the charity receives enough money from a recycling company for a new wheelchair.

19 February 2013