Three new disabled parking spots are now available at Fraser Cove Shopping Centre after a Tauranga woman’s persistence with centre management.
As regular Countdown Fraser Cove shoppers, Elly Maynard and her husband Mike found it increasingly difficult to get Mike from the parked car into the supermarket with his walker.
Elly says wheelchair, walker and walking stick users face many hurdles moving from A to B across roads, streets and paths with different gradients and levels.
Even an inch higher or lower in the ground level can cause a disastrous accident, leaving them more impaired then they were before, further taking away their independence.
One of the entrances to Countdown has a very steep decline with the pathway being angled down, making it difficult for disabled citizens to make their way into the supermarket.
Mike himself knows the pain the uneven paths have caused him.
In April 2018, Mike suffered a brain hemorrhage and a subsequent stroke. He has since relied on a walker due to his unsteadiness on his feet.
“He’s fallen about three times, and after the third time, it’s shocking,” says Elly.
The side kerb leading into the Countdown entrance, the gradient and cracks in the ground make it a falling hazard. Photo: Daniel Hines/SunLive.
After seeing her husband and other disabled citizens struggle to get from their cars into the Fraser Cove shops, Elly took it upon herself to do something about it.
“I spoke to a number of people before I decided to do something, because they are all struggling. So I contacted Marie from the Fraser Cove management, and she said there is nothing they can do.
“But I said it’s a health issue, its danger, and to me, being someone with a disabled person from last year, it’s been hard enough him dealing with his situation without being made to feel like a second class citizen.
“It was my aim to get something, so I spoke to Marie, and she said, where do you suggest to have the parks?”
Elly made a plan to implement three disabled car parks on a flat area near a side entrance to the supermarket, making it safer for people in wheelchairs and walkers without having to travel over uneven surfaces and through heavy traffic.
“My main aim is to let people know who have got walkers, wheel chairs and walking sticks that you’ve got this flat, safe area to go and enjoy your shopping,” says Elly.
“It’s for caregivers as well as people who are disabled, just because you are an invalid it doesn’t mean you are invalid.”
Mike says his wife has done a ‘pretty good thing’, making it easier for people like himself to make their way on to the path to easily access shops.
“Any variation in ground level is quite hard to deal with, and in theory, a variation of one inch is quite difficult.
“It sounds silly if you can’t walk up one inch, but in fact when you have a stroke, all these things are magnified.”
Mike says it is easy people planning walkways, paths and roads to look ahead and think of those with who may struggle getting up on to the path.
“They should include in their planning people with walkers and wheelchairs.
“You don’t need the kerbs, they make life hard for people needing to go up and down with a contraption.”
Fraser Cove Shopping Centre Manager Marie Michewski took action after Elly kindly hassled her about creating a safe and flat parking area for disabled shoppers.
Marie says after Elly proposed the carpark area to her, she talked to CCS and they gave her the green light.
“We’re trying to keep everyone happy,” says Marie.
“These people are our customers, you’ve got to listen.”
Elly says she and Mike are very happy with the new flat disabled carparks.
“Mike likes coming here now, and so do I, knowing I’m not going to have to worry about him falling.”