Rolling Without Limits

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Journey on a Wheelchair
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Journey on a Wheelchair

Not many people would notice the slight dip of the road or a raise that requires one to strain just a little more to get over it, but Jennifer Crowell certainly does. Journeying across the city in her motorized wheelchair, she braces herself for the dip as she navigates smoothly over it, going on one of her many journeys across the city.

Rising Up to Face Life

Jennifer Crowell, who is a quadriplegic, has very little dexterity in her arms and fingers and thus needs to rely on her wheelchair to get around. Paralysed in July 2008 when she dived into shallow waters and injured her vertebrae, Jennifer admits that getting around is not always an easy feat.

Not only has Jennifer begun preparing herself to manage daily activities but she has also trained her Australian shepherd, Journey, to serve as a service dog. The best way to train him was to expose him to various environments during his training.

Some of the shops on Main Street have ramps but right at the top is a granite step that makes it hard for Crowell to get in. As she makes her way to People’s United Bank, she encounters an automatic handicap-accessible door, which is a rarity in this area. For Cromwell, knowing things that are part of the regular scenery for others, is important for her to make her journey on a wheelchair.

The Drawbacks of Living in a Historic Place

Jessica Littles, the manager of Main Street's Steele’s Stationers, states that the architecture of the place makes it unfeasible for people in wheelchairs. Everything has been built on raised ground to tackle the issue of flooding.

For her part, Littles’ store tries its best to help customers who are unable to come inside. Although open to putting a ramp, the tight location doesn’t leave much space to put one that would meet the requirements of Americans with Disabilities. People who rent spaces have an even harder time trying to create a more accessible way.

However, this isn’t the norm. Most of the places in Depot Square, along with Town Hall and the shopping plazas, do have accessible entrances. Banks are also very accessible but there are still people who cannot make it inside. For such people, the bank is always willing to go to the customer.  

Kevin McElhinney, assistant vice-president at Lake Sunapee Bank says that this is not done just because they have to comply with the ADA but because they want to serve their customers to the best of their ability.

Hope for a Better Change

While meeting the ADA requirements is one matter, it is also nice when people try to make their places accessible. Smaller things like table height or width of an aisle are still things need to be thought about. Of course, it all starts with little changes which will hopefully spiral into greater awareness as years pass.

Crowell, who works at Granite State Independent Living, enjoys going to work because everything in her building is accessible. For Cromwell, until the rest of the world catches up, she plans to continue journeying on her wheelchair, hopefully inspiring change in people all around. With a portable ramp at her disposal, she is determined to not miss out on life because of her wheelchair.

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