Workers tackle wheelchair challenge

NICOLA WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 10/10/2012
Wheel time
JASON OXENHAM

WHEEL TIME: Deloitte analysts Ashley Bai, left, and Valeria Maw get down to business in wheelchairs.

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Walking a mile in another person's shoes did not involve walking at all during an awareness exercise for the NZ Spinal Trust.

Wheels at Work week is an initiative from the trust to get people to experience what it would be like to be in a wheelchair.

Finance firm Deloitte was one of the businesses that took part, with around 18 staff members navigating their offices in wheelchairs for the day. They discovered the difficulties of opening doors, fitting themselves in lifts and negotiating passageways.

“It's the sustained use of a wheelchair that results in a real experience, rather than the fun of a five-minute roll," former Paralympian and trust chief executive Ben Lucas says.

He says the awareness campaign also helps to encourage greater employment opportunities for people with spinal cord impairment.

Deloitte corporate responsibility manager Deborah Lucas says staff at the Queen St office hoped to gain a valuable insight into the challenges that existed in their work environment.

"We are looking forward to the chance to provide feedback on how the workplace can be made more wheelchair friendly," she says.

Deloitte staff member Valeria Maw says she gained an appreciation for the difficulties wheelchair users experience.

Pride was also on the line during the workplace challenge. Anyone whose feet hit the ground or could not see the day out in their chair had to pay a ‘fine' in the form of a donation to the trust.

The trust provides back-to-work services, support networks and information for the 3500 people with spinal cord impairments and their families and carers.

Go to nzspinaltrust. org.nz for information.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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