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6 Tips for a Safe and Accessible Halloween

Every October millions of children participate in neighborhood “Trick or Treating” across the country. Most communities do a fantastic job of providing additional safety and resources, however one thing that is often overlooked is the issue of accessibility. Here are 6 helpful tips that can help improve your child’s Halloween experience:

1) Look for Community Events – Travelling through neighborhoods can be difficult, especially when the weather is bad and people sit inside their homes with steps up to a door or front porch. Often times local churches or organizations will host indoor events or parking lot trick or treats where accessibility is easier. If your community doesn’t offer these type of events, now is a great time to start the conversation for next year.

2) Find the Best Route – Plan out the right route for you. Find familiar areas that you know have proper street lighting and bigger sidewalks that can accommodate your needs. Apartments and condominiums will sometimes have their own hours for handing out candy, and often times they will have better accessibility than private homes.

3) Be Safe – Every year safety is at the top of every parent’s mind. Here are few reminders to help keep everyone safe:

  •  Add lights, reflective tape, flashlights or glow sticks to costumes so drivers can see you at night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for vehicles backing up and look both ways when crossing the street. 
  • Park in safe, well lighted areas that allow you to remove your wheelchair easily. 
  • As a driver, slow down and be on alert during Trick or Treating hours. Build in extra time to get to your destination and anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic.

4) Plan with Your Neighbors – If you live in a large neighborhood there is a good chance that people either won’t know or may forget that there is a possibility their home may be visited Halloween evening by a child in a wheelchair. By just spreading the word your neighbors will be mindful and accommodating.

5) Have your Own Party – For anyone who is really feeling ambitious throwing your own Halloween get together is one of the best options. There are countless ideas online for games, decorations and themed recipes. This also gives the adults a chance to get together and have some fun!

 6) Raise the Issue – If you notice that your community is not doing enough to provide inclusive, family-friendly events, Halloween is a great opportunity to speak up. Often times places like pumpkin patches and haunted houses overlook the need for ramps and accessible options. Contacting owners and organizers can go a long way in improving accessibility in your community when it comes to other events throughout the year.

We hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!

Join MobilityWorks at the San Mateo Abilities Expo

Auti Angel’s FreeStyle Dance Workshop. Presented by: Auti Angel, Abilities Expo “Dancebassador”, star of Sundance Channel’s Push Girls. Location: Events Arena

For almost 40 years the Abilities Expo has been displaying groundbreaking solutions and opportunities for the disabled community. Join MobilityWorks October 27-29, at the San Mateo County Event Center where you can learn wheelchair sports or dance, attend informative workshops and check out the latest in adaptive equipment.

Expo hours are from 11AM to 5PM on Friday and Saturday, and from 11AM to 4PM on Sunday. The San Mateo County Event Center is located at 1346 Saratoga Dr. San Mateo, CA 94403.

Here are a few highlights from the event that you won’t want to miss:

  • Adaptive Yoga and Rowing
  • Acupressure for Stress Release
  • Auti Angel’s Freestyle Dance Workshop
  • Roll with the Wind: Ride-Along Race
  • Watch Live Wheelchair Lacrosse and Rugby

The MobilityWorks team will be located at booth for #420 to answer any of your questions about our accessible vehicles, scooter lifts or any other of our adaptive driving equipment. The event is free and open to the public. We look forward to seeing you later this month at the San Mateo Abilities Expo!

To learn more about this event, you can visit www.abilities.com/bayarea

MobilityWorks Opens New Location Near Buffalo, New York

MobilityWorks is excited to announce the opening of our newest location in Amherst, NY just Northeast of Buffalo. Our showroom will be located at 3560 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, NY 14226 just off of 290 East at the Sheridan/Millersport intersection. This will be the 70th MobilityWorks location across 24 states.

“MobilityWorks is very excited to be expanding to serve the Buffalo market”, said Joe Canda, Midwest Regional Manager of MobilityWorks. “With a full line of adaptive solutions available, including service and rentals, we will be able to provide the right wheelchair accessible solution for the unique needs of our clients.”

On November 2nd and 3rd 2017, the store will be holding a Grand Opening Event which will include special offers, test drives of various vehicle options, and a staff meet and greet. Normal showroom hours are from 8 AM to 5 PM M-F, with Saturday hours by appointment only. Pre-scheduled appointments are recommended for arranging a free needs analysis and mobility consultation.

Lou Catalano will be the General Manager of the Amherst location and brings with him years of experience from the automotive industry. He’s looking forward to serving the community and providing adaptive solutions for clients all over Western New York.

To RSVP to the Grand Opening Event or schedule an appointment, call 716-342-3530 or go to www.mobilityworks.com/rsvp

Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant – Women Who Inspire

As a sponsor of the 2018 Ms. Wheelchair America pageant, we were fortunate to be present as Sheri Melander-Smith was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2018.  Her platform of “Living Forward” inspires all of us to be the best vision of what we dream our lives to be.  Sheri believes that the most important achievement is to serve others.

For one week in August, constants from 25 states competed for the crown of Ms. Wheelchair America 2018 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Participants had a full week packed with activities including interviews, workshops and appearances; culminating with the presentation of their platform speeches. For Sheri Melander-Smith, the media attention was nothing new, as she is no stranger to the spotlight! At the age of 18, Sheri won the Midwest title for the “Face of the 80’s” as part of the Ford Agency’s competition in New York City. For the next six years, she traveled the world for photo shoots, commercials and was even on the pilot episode of the longstanding soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful”.

At the age of 25 Sheri suffered a spinal aneurysm and chose to end her modeling career. She enrolled at UCLA, and upon graduation returned to Minnesota where she earned an MBA and master’s in psychology. Almost 15 years later her spinal aneurysm returned, and upon waking up from surgery Sheri had lost the use of her legs. Melander-Smith did not let the diagnosis hold her back as she quickly became a spokeswoman and advocate for the wheelchair community. Sheri returned to television with a cable program called ‘Living Forward’ and began writing for local publications and newspapers. Now that she is Ms. Wheelchair America, Sheri will be very busy over the next year sharing her message “Living Forward”.

One of her first scheduled appearances was earlier this month at the Boston Abilities Expo, where Sheri met with attendees and exhibitors displaying the latest in adaptive technology. As Ms. Wheelchair America, Melander-Smith will be in attendance at all of the Abilities Expos in the United States over the next year. Sheri also just returned from Hawaii where she visited several hospitals and was also able to enjoy the beautiful views from Waikiki beach.

Over the next year, she is most excited for her several trips to Washington D.C. “I look forward to meeting with National organizations and influencers who can help make a difference” Sheri stated “Past winners have had the opportunity to meet the president and I am currently working on scheduling a meeting with President Trump”. Sheri will also get the opportunity to watch her son play basketball on these trips. Oliver is a 6’10  Sophomore Center for the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Sheri is just one of the many women we met at this year’s pageant that inspired us. Throughout the next several months we will be sharing with you the women, their advocacy and why they inspire all of us.  Follow us on Facebook to ensure you don’t miss their stories.

To learn more about the pageant you may visit www.mswheelchairamerica.org or click here  to be added to their weekly email list “Wheel Wednesday News” for the latest updates including state pageant contests and news from Sheri and past winners.

10 Accessible Travel Tips

We all know that traveling can be difficult, especially when needing to make accessible accommodations. Whether you are traveling by plane, or with your own or rented accessible vehicle, there are several additional factors to consider. Since the busiest travel season of the year is quickly approaching, here are 10 helpful tips to consider:

1) Plan and Research – Before you depart, research some top accessible destinations to visit including parks, museums and restaurants. Use online tools like Google and Yelp to help you with your research. Also, look for companies that offer wheelchair accessible tours.

2) Know your Equipment – It is always helpful to know the make and model of your wheelchair as well as the height, width and weight when you are seated in it. This information can all be found in your owners manual or on the manufacturer’s website, and by having someone help take a few measurements. Writing this information along with the phone number of your wheelchair manufacturer can come in handy if you are in need of parts or service.

3) Read Travel Blogs & Join Online Communities – There are several amazing accessible travel blogs online. A few of our favorites are www.curbfreewithcorylee.com, www.spintheglobe.net and www.pantou.org. You can also join the MobilityWorks Community Forum and ask questions to our experienced staff or interact with other forum members.

4) Be Safe – One of the biggest concerns when traveling to an unknown place is safety. Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Make sure to give a friend or family member an itinerary of your trip and plan a time to check in with them every so often
  • Check out safety apps such as “Companion” or “Watch Over Me” especially if you will be traveling at night
  • Wearable alarms, tactical flashlights and whistles are great to carry along as well.

5) Have a Backup Plan – Before you depart make a list of other hotels, tours and transportation options in case something falls through. It’s also a good idea to locate wheelchair repair shops in the area and bring their phone numbers and addresses with you.

6) Take Pictures for Proof – Before allowing an airline or anyone to handle your wheelchair or accessible equipment make sure to take recent pictures or video. This way, you are covered in case any of your belongings are mishandled or damaged.

7) Bring Important Documents – In addition to your identification there are a few documents that will be helpful to bring along:

  • Proof of Ownership of Wheelchair
  • Instructions for Assembly on any Equipment
  • Copy of the Air Carrier Access Act
  • Copies of any Prescriptions

8) Carry a Safety Kit – If you are driving, having a few things in the event of an emergency can be a life-saver. Items such as a blanket, road flares, basic tools and car chargers are always a good idea to keep with you. You should also have your vehicle and accessible equipment inspected by a NMEDA certified technician prior to any road trip. MobilityWorks offers ProtectionWorks, an emergency roadside protection program that includes wheelchair passenger transportation.

9) Alert the Airport in Advance – Most airports require at least a 48-hour notice and an early check-in time for anyone requiring additional accessible accommodations. The airline you are traveling should also have a disability services contact in the event that any issues arise.

10) Rent Equipment from a Trusted Company – If you are traveling somewhere there is not a MobilityWorks location and need to rent an accessible vehicle, check out Accessible Vans of America. When renting an accessible vehicle, you should always be given a safety demonstration before pulling away. Make sure to inspect the four safety tie-downs for signs of defects, fraying or malfunctions.

We hope these tips will help guide you during any adventures you plan to take this fall and in the future. We wish you a safe, fun and hassle-free trip.

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