Hello! My name is Grace, and I was diagnosed with a condition called Arthrogryposis at birth, which simply means that I cannot use my limbs as well as the average person, so therefore I must use an electric wheelchair to get myself out and about. I have lived in Fernie my whole life, and let me just say this, I have a lot of challenges in my life, and a lot of them cannot be helped, but accessibility in this town is one thing that I know can and should be changed.
I am a busy 16-year-old who has places to go to and people to see, and most of the time it can be very difficult for me to do what I have to do. Things like finding a parking space, getting into a store, getting around the store and using the washroom, which might seem easy to the average person, are extremely hard for people like myself who have difficulties getting from place to place. The average person doesn’t know how difficult these tasks can be, until they are put in a situation in which they must experience them face-to-face.
For me, the most important thing is to be treated equal, like every other person, and when the store, parking stall, or washroom is accessible, it makes me feel less like an alien and more like a regular human being, which is why accessibility is extremely important to me. It’s the thing that separates me from being just like everyone else, to being “disabled,” the person that is unable to do something because they’re “special.” If Fernie decided to make the change, to make things easier for the people that don’t have it so easy, then equality might actually be in our grasp. If the person that parked in the handicapped stall, who said they were just going in for a quick second, made the right decision and parked somewhere else, even if it meant walking a little bit further, if one store owner decided to make a ramp outside their door or put an elevator in their store, if one person is willing to make the change then who knows what can be accomplished. So let me ask you something, when life gives you lemons, should you always make lemonade? In other words, should we be content with everything we have, or should we stand up for what we think is right? Where would the world be today if we didn’t have fighters and people to stand up for what they believe in? I am just a little person (quite literally) and my opinion might not mean much, but how do we know what we’re capable of, or not capable of, how do we know what we can do, and what we can’t do, to make a change, unless we try? This is something that I have to ask myself every single day, and now I’m asking you, and I’ll end with this, how do you know what you can do, unless you try?