On the Road with new Wheels
Serving a clientele with mobility issues adds extra challenges to the job, so having an extra set of wheels can make things roll that much more smoothly.
Community Living Fort Erie has a new wheelchair accessible van on the road, thanks to a grant from Niagara Community Foundation’s social services fund. “Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to inclusion for people with intellectual and physical disabilities,” says Margaret Fidler, Community Living’s manager of
community development. A $6,000 Foundation contribution to a new accessible vehicle helps ensure 15 years of safe, reliable, affordable transportation to medical programs, job training, respite care, or community supports for dozens of clients and their families and caregivers.
In particular, Community Living Fort Erie identified gaps for youth from the ages of 14 to 24, who, whether they live with their families, in group homes, or with alternative families, need to be able to access training for employment skills, and gain confidence and connections to prepare them for adulthood. Participating in community programs and activities allows them to acquire skills, build confidence, and form natural support networks. In contrast, public transportation in Fort Erie is both expensive and infrequent, in addition to being inaccessible, which leaves these youth at the risk of being socially isolated and marginalized. Each person supported by Community Living Fort Erie has a self-directed plan with measurable goals, and transportation is often what is needed to meet those goals.
The new van means “people with physical challenges will have the opportunity to be included in their community in ways that are meaningful and valuable to them,” says Fidler.