I am confused about what I can and can’t do during the Covid-19 lockdown, particularly as a person living with disability. On the one hand, I am told to stay at home. On the other, I am told to go outside for some fresh air and exercise. I want to play my part and do both, but it is not so easy to get out of the house for those with access needs, and yet it so important for my physical and emotional wellbeing.
The importance of being outdoors and exercising
I live on a very steep road, so all I want to do is drive a short distance to my local beach or park to walk on a flat space. Or even just sit in my car - windows up if necessary - to have a break and a change of scene.
I think elderly people, who are sometimes not fit enough to walk on their own, can be very affected by these restrictions. And I fear that the incidents of depression and suicide will increase in a community that is already struggling with mental health issues.
Confusion about what our leaders are saying about traveling
There has been confusion over what Jacinda and Civil Defence have said, compared to what the police are saying. The police have said we can’t take a short drive to a beach or park, but Jacinda and Civil Defence said it was okay for those in need of exercise.
Thankfully the head of police Mike Bush is now saying it’s okay to take a short drive to a local beach or park to exercise. That is awesome, but this absolutely must be clarified, especially for the disabled and elderly who cannot walk, jog or cycle from their homes. We just want to be treated equally and have the opportunity to exercise like everyone else. We need a flat area, or at least the ability to sit in our cars and get a change of view. We need to be certain we will not be arrested!
I would like to hear it confirmed that the disabled and elderly can sit in their car for a sanity break too if they cannot exercise. It could be with the windows up if necessary and clearly displaying a disability card or gold card.
Call for Accessibility Legislation
I would like to see Accessibility Legislation implemented in New Zealand. A law that will apply even during times of national emergency, to protect the rights of people with access needs.
This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.