The recent heat wave to sweep the UK has divided the nation. You either love it or hate it. I must admit, I’m loving it and hope it sticks around for as long as possible. I can’t remember the last time the weather was this good so I want to enjoy it while it lasts. There really is no better place to be when the sun is shining than here in Scotland.
As someone with Muscular Dystrophy, the warmth from the sun helps ease my weak muscles and makes simple arm movements a little easier to do. Unlike the winter, my arms aren’t weighed down with countless layers of clothing which further restricts my limited movements.
This summer has kicked off brilliantly and it has been lovely to spend more time outdoors with my family. We had some family visiting on the Grangemouth Children’s Day and as it was a beautiful day we decided to go for a walk with the dog to Rannoch Park. I haven’t been to this park in years, but have seen its transformation while driving past in the car.
I can’t believe how great the park is looking since its makeover. The smooth tarmacadamed paths were an absolute dream to drive my wheelchair across. Without a doubt, my favourite part of the park is the wheelchair accessible picnic table. Although I already knew about this new feature, it was still exciting to actually see it for real.
I immediately wheeled over to the table to try it out, but unfortunately, I didn’t have a picnic with me at the time. I can’t wait to go back to the park soon with a picnic basket in tow.
To most people, this won’t be a big deal, but to me and many other wheelchair users and their families, this is a big step towards being inclusive to all. Being able to roll my wheelchair underneath the table and sit with friends and family shouldn’t be a luxury.
In reality, simply sitting at a picnic table with loved ones is something that is taken for granted unless you or someone close to you is a wheelchair user and have come across barriers to accessibility.
However, there are places that could learn a lot from Rannoch Park. Whilst visiting Five Sisters Zoo for my five-year-old nephew’s birthday a few months ago, we were disappointed to discover that we couldn’t enjoy our packed lunch in the designated picnic area.
I felt terrible as I had promised my nephew that we would have our picnic at the zoo. To be able to eat myself I need a table to lean on and since the zoo didn’t have any accessible tables we had no choice but to leave the zoo and find somewhere that I was able to sit and eat my lunch in a dignified and accessible way. We then re-entered the zoo after our lunch.
This shouldn’t have to be the case. We should be able to have our picnic like all the other families enjoying their day at the zoo. Wheelchair accessible picnic tables should be in place at all parks and public areas.
I’m now on a mission to find more local parks and attractions with wheelchair accessible facilities including playgrounds and picnic tables. I couldn’t be happier that Rannoch Park has one.
Come on Falkirk Council let’s lead the way for great accessibility for all.