Christopher’s Letter to the Editor – a Campaigner-in-the-Making

Christopher has just completed a Yr. 10 English project that required him to identify a community need/issue and develop a campaign to address it. As an old campaigner from way back, I was delighted with the practical and instructive nature of this project. He had to research his chosen issue, make contact with appropriate people in the community (in this case, he got me to ring the Council and the local newspaper for information on his behalf), and plan a strategy.

Today, he received a beautiful, hand-written letter of encouragement from the secretary of the Sunshine Coast Quaker Meeting who had read the letter to the editor he sent a few weeks ago about his chosen area of concern and which we were blissfully unaware had been published – as I am too slack (cheap?) to buy the paper – and it prompted me to publish his letter here.

The Editor,
Sunshine Coast Daily

re: wheelchair accessibility on Council pathways

Dear Sir/Madam,

It has come to my attention (Sunshine Coast Daily, 16th February 2011) that the Sunshine Coast Council plans to spend $7 million more developing walking and bike riding pathways all around the Coast and Hinterland. I think this is an excellent idea because it gets people out of their cars and encourages them to walk or ride more.

I am 15 years old and am permanently in a wheelchair and one of my favourite things is to get out in the fresh air and enjoy our beautiful surroundings. Paths are a big part of this, as anyone who has tried to push a wheelchair over gravel or grass or tried to negotiate a steep hill will know. It is very disappointing to have an outing ruined by suddenly coming up on a gravel path or a set of steps or a very steep slope and having to turn back. This has happened to my Carers and me on more than one occasion.

This affects people of all ages from infants in prams to senior citizens with walking frames or wheelchairs. It applies to not only Sunshine Coast residents but also to the tourists who come here. The Sunshine Coast is a big tourist attraction and even more people would visit here if they knew that all Sunshine Coast pathways were accessible by wheelchair, walker or pram. It would help the local economy and make the Sunshine Coast a friendlier place. It might even set a standard for other communities to follow.

We need to start raising this issue with Council so that they can start implementing plans to include accessibility into future pathways as they are built over the next 20 years.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Hills

He also produced a 45 sec video to be used as part of the campaign. Have a look at it here.

Christopher and I have talked often about the thngs we might do after he has completed formal schooling a few years from now. Community Service, Campaigning, Overseas Aid and Development – such things we have considered, and, surely, there is something a bright, wheelchair-bound young man and his not-quite-yet decrepit, recycled hippie of a father might be able to contribute.

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~ by Garry on August 1, 2011.

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