I’ve been doing some thinking and I realized that many people don’t understand the challenges people in wheelchairs face. Sometimes, all it takes is an act of kindness or understanding to help make the world a better place for people with disabilities. Being in a power wheelchair comes with its own struggles. I know many of you understand. Here are some changes that I wish could happen to make things easier for those with disabilities.
It Only Takes a Smile
One of the simplest things anyone can do to make someone in a power wheelchair feel good is to smile at them. It makes me so happy when someone just smiles at me. It honestly makes my day because it shows that you see me, regardless of my disability, and acknowledge I am the same as you. Many times, being out and living my life is something that I enjoy and seems like it should be effortless. Yet, when people stare at me, especially children my own age, it makes me feel sad. When I make an effort to smile and say “hi” and in return all I get is a look of fear or shock or just ignored, it’s hurtful.
Parents should sit their kids down and teach them that everyone is equal and people come in all shapes and sizes, disability or not. By doing this, you are teaching them to be kind from a young age and when they grow up they’ll appreciate people who are different from them. Explain to them why people are in wheelchairs and encourage them to be kind and helpful to everyone.
My dad and I stopped at the grocery store to pick up flowers and candy for my mom on her birthday. While my dad was paying for the flowers, I went to see if there was any candy that my mom would like. I found some and immediately elevated my Quantum® Edge® 3 Power Wheelchair at iLevel. I realized that I couldn’t reach it. I sat in my electric wheelchair for a moment trying to figure out some way to get what I needed when I saw a woman walking down the aisle. I assumed she was going to ask if I needed anything or if she needed to get someone to help me. Instead, she walked past me and moved on to another aisle before I could speak up and ask for help. This made me feel sad because she could’ve done a simple thing and made me feel independent and better about helping my mom. This is just one example of a simple act that makes all the difference.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Another thing that would make the world a better place is if people are more aware of their surroundings and helpful to those who are in need. It’s obvious that a shopping cart and my electric wheelchair won’t fit in the same aisle at the grocery store. So, instead of ignoring me, maybe move the cart so I can go by. It’s embarrassing to try and squeeze through. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve knock things over in the aisle because I get stuck. Besides the supermarket, this courtesy also applies in school and other places. Hold the door open, move things out of the way or just give me a little time to make my way past without you getting frustrated.
Click here to read part two of this blog.
About Sakina Shamsi: Sakina lives in New Jersey with her parents and brother. Although she has spinal muscular atrophy type II, Sakina lives a full and independent lifestyle. She is active in the disability community and enjoys horseback riding, baking and crafting. Click here to learn more about Sakina.