“It may be difficult to change the existing policy and hardware in a short time, but at least we can change people's attitudes.” This sums up the belief of the founding members of Wheel Power Challenge, who are committed to making Hong Kong a barrier-free, empathy-filled city.
Wheel Power Challenge started off by organising community-based experiential learning activities. Gloria, a wheelchair user in the founding team, wished to let others experience the barriers that wheelchair users often encounter in daily life. Sarah, another co-founder said, “There are things that do not need much explanation but to be learnt by first-hand experiences.”
Besides breaking common stereotypes about wheelchairs, Wheel Power Challenge hopes to help people with disability fulfil dreams and experience activities usually considered too arduous for them. The team collaborates with different organisations to launch the ‘Wheel We Hike’ project. It aims to promote barrier-free hiking routes, while the project team will go hiking with wheelchair users. With funding support from the SIE Fund, they launched the ‘Wheel to Beach’ project which enables persons with disability to have fun on the beach with the aid of beach-accessible wheelchairs.
It was not without challenge though. For instance, there was no handy information about hiking spots and beaches with barrier-free facilities or transport services. The team had to spend much time and effort searching for suitable places for activities and conducting site recce. Besides, they had to solicit the support of partner organisations on hiring beach-accessible wheelchairs.
The team agrees that much needs to be done in Hong Kong, both in terms of infrastructure and public attitudes, to give wheelchair users more support. Yet they believe that Wheel Power Challenge can help to bring changes bit by bit. “We will be making a giant leap towards an inclusive society when everyone is willing to take a small step.”
- The SIE Fund is funding the prototype project Wheel to Beach. More details can be found here.
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