New charity Wheeleasy launches today with a simple mission. To provide wheelchair users, their families and friends with better access to the leisure activities that the rest of us Australians take for granted.
It’s the brainchild of Max Burt and wife Justine. Max’s life changed in 1999 when his car was hit by an on-call fire engine, suffering catastrophic injuries and making him a permanent wheelchair user.
Both saw how few activities they could do together. For every wheelchair user, there are always many others who are also disadvantaged. The result, too often, is that everyone stays at home. WheelEasy aims to change this with various projects.
The first is the Access Information Website: www.wheeleasy.org.au is the first of its kind; a geolocation based, one stop shop for everything about access, bringing together information currently scattered all over the place; on individual websites, in pamphlets, in people’s heads. It will give guidance on all leisure oriented activities covering beaches, stations, stadiums, cinemas, and bush walks to name but a few.
Where are the accessible toilets? Parking? Ramps? Beach wheelchairs? Flat access picnic areas, playgrounds and restaurants? Is the transport I need to use to get there accessible? Small details that make the difference between staying at home and venturing out and making the most of everything this marvelous country has to offer.
The site is built with mobiles in mind. If lack of access becomes clear when out and about, the ability to spontaneously look for alternatives has never been available. Now spur of the moment changes in plan become possible.
Everyone can share information about their local area. And, people can add photos; because wheelchair users often have different access needs, photos can often show more than words.
Max Burt, Chairman of Trustees, says, “Our ultimate aim is to make every wheelchair user in Australia aware of our site and ask them to share their local knowledge and experience. We’ve started in NSW and now we are mapping the whole country. We want it to be a permanent feature on every wheelchair user’s mobile”.
“Imagine not being able to get down on to a beach with your family. Imagine not being able to go to a cinema with your mates because you don’t know if you can sit with them. Imagine how wonderful it would be to know the boat journey you wanted to take your parents on was possible to do; because you knew for sure that the boat piers were wheelchair accessible.
This information is essential to enjoying life with others. Now imagine being able to access all this information on one site”.
Funding will come from grants, corporate partnerships, donations and fundraising activities.
To kick-start the charity, WheelEasy has just been awarded a substantial grant from one of Australia’s major philanthropic bodies, the Ian Potter Foundation.
It has also announced its first significant corporate partnership with property developer Mirvac becoming a primary major supporter.