Just 2 Days Into Wheelchair Use, My Daughter Has Already Experienced Inaccessibility And Discrimination

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“Yesterday my disabled (almost) 4-year-old got her first wheelchair. Months leading up to this, I felt the sadness that comes with accepting your child will most likely never walk independently but eventually knew that a wheelchair could possibly give her some independent mobility in the future.

When we went to pick it up I started to get excited for this opportunity for her. I popped her in it for her first ride to the parkade and her smile was contagious. Everyone in the hospital could tell this was a big day for her and looked just as excited for us.

When we got home we decided we would take her out for a day date in it to a restaurant that had just opened up close to our house. We walked in and I immediately could tell by the look on the server’s faces that there would be nowhere for her wheelchair to fit at a table.

Sure enough, the only tables that could possibly accommodate her, or any wheelchair for that matter, were up a set of stairs. We didn’t let it stop us from enjoying our outing though and headed down the elevator to the bowling alley downstairs which also didn’t have any wheelchair accessible tables but stayed anyways.

Our first outing with her wheelchair wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible nonetheless.

Today, I took my girl on a mommy/Emma date to the mall, again bringing her wheelchair. It was very busy and I was taken aback by the amounts of stares we got immediately entering. It was as if no one had ever seen a young child in a wheelchair before.

I tried not to let it bug me but as we navigated the mall the more stares we got the more it made me feel sad. Most people made zero efforts to move out of the way even when asked politely and I was honestly shocked.

I don’t expect people to roll out a red carpet but I at least expected the decency to make our lives a little bit easier by moving 1 foot so I can pass by. Then it happened.

My daughter got overstimulated and started screaming and crying, to which we were met with not only even more stares but the dirtiest looks I’ve seen in awhile. I wanted to cry as I rushed out of the store and headed to my car while she continued to scream.

Life as a disability parent is extremely hard and it’s moments like this that make me want to hide in my home. It is our safe place where no one can stare, judge, or make us feel out of place.

This was only day two of my daughter’s life in a wheelchair and it makes me incredibly sad to think that this is just the beginning of days like these. Please, I beg you, be kind to others and try to be considerate to the ones who may need it a little more.”

blonde girl sitting in blue and pink wheelchair
Courtesy of Amanda Burritt

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Burritt. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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