Breaking Doors and opening barriers


Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Each year the United Nations have a theme around which countries can formulate events and gatherings. Around 15% of the population of our planet experience impairment / disability – and the theme for this year is Break Barriers and open doors.

I thought I’d flip that around and pause in remembrance of all the times I have broken things to remove barriers and improve my life.

RIP wooden swing doors in High School.

These heavy wooden doors had solid wooden lower panels and glass on their upper half – and a spring that most wimpy children and wheelchair users couldn’t overcome. They had probably been there for 50 years. That is until I rammed into them with my footplates at 4 miles per hour,  crashing through with more gusto than someone flat lining in a dramatic trolly entrance to A&E. Wham. I took of the bottom part of the door and part of it’s spine. A trail of splinters was all that was left. Oops. Access around school for wheelchair users was pretty poor in my day.

Education: 1, Barrier: 0

RIP pre fabricated university lecture room aka porta-cabin.

University had much easier doors to get through – nice and wide, not too springy and many electric self opening types.   However, a ramp does not an entrance make – when there is a 90 degree turns at the top of an area less than my chair’s turning circle. Bang. I took out the whole of the rotting side panel along it’s entire length, amidst much laughter from fellow students. Rock and Roll. 

Higher Education:1, Barrier: 0.

RIP metal barriers somewhere in London near Westminster Cathedral.

My memory is a bit vague on this one – but my parish priest took me to Westminster Cathedral for a major service for new Catholics to be. Parking was a bit difficult and the place was packed. When we got back to the car it had been impounded behind some padlocked metal barriers. I don’t know how I got back in the car but it involved our priest scaling the metal fence and ‘getting it released’.  It was truly a new episode of Father Ted in the making. Needs must.

Spiritual Life:1, Barrier: 0.

RIP ‘Rule 1 – don’t go down the cliff’

Rules can often be the biggest barriers. My friends threw the rule book out the window which said, don’t go down the steep cliff path to the beach for a BBQ if you use a wheelchair. We gathered up several strong people and some ropes.  Both me and my electric chair went down the Norfolk cliff and it was game on for a beach BBQ.

Social Life: 1, Barrier: 0 .



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