We need both legs to walk. It’s a simple concept to grasp and simpler still to experience why this is true.
Recently, I severed my ACL while practicing martial arts, and now it is all I can do to safely shuffle around to the places that I enjoy. It made me wonder how difficult it must be for those that are permanently injured to get around. It certainly made my injury pale in comparison.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have a disability. That means that 19 percent of the world’s population have conditions that affect their way of living.
A disability is categorized as any physical or mental condition that negatively impacts a person’s life and can range anywhere from hard-of-hearing to bodily paralysis.
I have the luxury of biding time until I heal but there are many people who will forever live with the somber cards they’ve been dealt.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I immediately imagined and cringed at the thought that the wild places and beautiful fishing holes would no longer be within reach. As it stands, I can barely hobble to the water’s edge. If I was wheelchair bound, many of my favorite spots would become inaccessible.
My point is this: wild areas within the beauty of nature should be accessible by all people who have the desire to experience them. Mother Nature’s healing qualities should be within reach for all people.
I believe that the U.S. should make it a bigger priority to make its national parks more accessible and accommodating to the disabled. Now, this is not to say that many are not already but to call out to the parks that don’t have resources for those who may need them. The solution is not to pave whole tracks of untouched land but to make the already existing and least intrusive of paths easier to navigate.
On a recent trip to Sand dunes National park, it was impressive to see the special “sand wheelchairs” that made sand and gravel travel easier to undertake for wheelchair bound visitors. All parks should have the funding and hospitality to be able to provide these types of items.
If people took more of an interest in others lives, then the notion of equality we speak of would be easier to follow. I, myself, am disappointed that it took surgery to realize this, that I had to be disabled to have empathy enough for those that may be worse off than I am.