Sawchuk highlights "AccessAbility" in Blyth - May 30, 2019
May 26 to June 1 is National AccessAbility Week, a week to promote improved community access for people with disabilities. This week was inspired by Rick Hansen in 1987 with his Man in Motion World Tour - it has been 32 years since Rick rolled around the world!
Now, as a part of the Rick Hansen Foundation, I am so excited to help launch new awareness campaign called ‘Everyone Everywhere’. Together, we are going to raise awareness of the critical need to improve physical accessibility for Canadians of all abilities.
To quote Rick Hansen: “Accessibility is a basic human right. Currently one in five Canadians have a disability. And despite the growing number of seniors and people with both temporary and permanent disabilities, Canada is still not accessible for all. I hope this campaign sparks a national conversation on how we can work together to make Canada truly inclusive.”
What Rick Hansen says is true: Canada is not accessible to all, but in our towns we are starting to see a shift in attitudes. Businesses and individuals are starting to see that “Everyone Everywhere” makes sense. So let’s pause for a minute and celebrate all of the good things that are happening in our area, achievements that show that the citizens of Blyth, and the rest of Huron, want to make a difference!
The County of Huron has concluded that a safe pedestrian crossing will be installed on the main street of Blyth! What a difference that will make! And not just for the people who live here, but also for those attending the Blyth Festival and summer tourists. In Clinton, there will be an accessible playground installed beside the racetrack. The Huron County Courthouse is renovating to install a universal washroom and the Town of Goderich will be rolling out the MobiMats on the beach again this summer.
The Rutledge subdivision at the north end of Blyth is building with access in mind. The development, geared toward seniors, has no-step wide entryways, open-plan kitchen and living spaces and washrooms with a large turning radius. These new homes will be the first in the area for sale or rent that are built to be both visitable for guests and accessible for the occupants. So exciting!
And let’s look at downtown Blyth. Thanks to DEAMS Holdings, Orr Insurance is now in a completely accessible office. The Howard Building (north of the theatre) is coming along quite nicely. If you look closely you’ll see that the steps that used to be out front have been removed and replaced with properly sloped ramps leading up to a wide door with an automatic opener. When you look inside you will see a big bright space that will be ready for Pick-A-Posie’s costumes, fabric and sewing. There is also an accessible washroom in the back.
The renovations completed at Memorial Hall allow everyone access to the fabulous productions put on at the Blyth Festival every summer. The Hotel Lux is busy (in the former North Huron Publishing building) creating an accessible storefront and a hotel suite! I can’t wait to be able to tell people of all abilities that they can come and stay in Blyth! This will be the first fully-accessible overnight accommodations in all of Huron County!
Looking for somewhere accessible to eat? Look no farther than the across the street the Queens Bakery with a no-step entry and two accessible washrooms. And of course let’s not forget Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company. Not only is the brewery and restaurant completely accessible, they have also renovated their new office space in the old Emergency Services Training Centre building for staff of all abilities.
The other fabulous asset we have to celebrate in Huron County is the Guelph-to-Guelph Rail Trail (G2G). With accessible parking in Walton, Blyth and Goderich and a hard-packed surface for many kilometres, the G2G is a great way for people to access the outdoors.
I apologize for all of the exclamation marks that I have used in this column, but with so much to celebrate how “Everyone Everywhere” is already starting to happen in our area, why not?
While National AccessAbility week is a new campaign to raise awareness of the critical need to improve physical accessibility for Canadians of all abilities, realize that we are making it happen, right here at home. We still have a lot to do, but in Huron we have the vision that “Everyone Everywhere” can be a reality.
To learn more about the Everyone Everywhere campaign, visit: RickHansen.com/Everyone Everywhere. #EveryoneEvery where #huroncountyproud
Julie Sawchuk is a Rick Hansen Ambassador and RHFAC Strategist. To contact her for help making your spaces accessible visit www.juliesawchuk.ca.