The CEO of Multotec spent a work day in a wheelchair in support of the LITTLE EDEN Wheelchair Campaign. He shared his experience with us below:
“I arrived in my parking spot at the office and stepped out of my car and into the wheel chair at approximately 8:20am on Thursday the 8th of March. Access to the lift was good and clocking in worked on the first floor.
I gave a 9 am induction presentation to some new employees in our auditorium. Getting there was not easy due to some rough paving and steep ramps, but it was possible. Sitting in front of the stage during the induction presentation was a little frustrating because I like to move around and engage more actively with my audience. There is no disabled toilet at the convention centre and the access in and out is also very narrow. In the course of the morning it started raining and this made the going even harder due to not being able to hold an umbrella and the surfaces became more slippery. Thankfully I got a lift back to 28 Forge Rd. The rain definitely made it more difficult (well almost impossible), to get around. The one disabled toilet in the 28 Forge Rd reception area was accessible via a lift but using it required some techniques that I still needed to learn. Suffice to say that one needs quite some upper body strength to be able lift your entire weight only with your arms.
Driving with someone else in a car was fine if they could fit the chair into their boot.
One of the perspective changes was the height of your head above the ground, and in particular relative to others. I am almost 6 ft tall and used to most people being my size or shorter. It is quite a change to look up at others around you.
The closeness to the ground and that you are rolling over it, meant that I was far more aware of uneven and in particular sloped surfaces. Most of our offices and factories are inaccessible if you try and navigate on your own.
I do sit for much of the time at my desk normally so the chair was a little less comfortable, that my office chair and I found I was perspiring quite a bit into the nylon back rest.
People’s reactions were quite varied, some were aware of this exercise and approached me in a friendly and engaging manner, and others were a little surprised or shocked wondering what had happened to me.
I did get a little frustrated due to the slowness and cumbersome way of getting around. Almost everything I did needed more time.
I needed to be at a function at my kids school and got out of the chair at approximately 17:30pm. That means I sat in the chair for just over 8 hours!
Some of my reflections of the day:
I definitely appreciate my mobility much more since this exercise. I am an active runner and cyclist so this made an impact on me.
At Multotec we are definitely not ready to employ a wheel chair dependent person at the moment, but I do believe depending on the job and the location we could upgrade the facilities fairly quickly.
A wheel chair dependent person has a very visible disability, but we all have some of our own less visible disabilities which we tend to hide or be embarrassed about. I would hope that we can start looking at the people around us and see them not by their faults and disabilities but by their strengths and many different qualities that they possess. This I would consider real diversity inclusion.
We have started this process of taking on disabled learners and in the process of getting to know them realise they have a place in our hearts and at Multotec.
I would like to thank Little Eden for suggesting this challenge and I believe we could all gain by appreciating what they do for our community!