THROUGH HIS EYES: Lochlan hopes participants of the wheelchair challenge will realise his day-to-day struggles.
THROUGH HIS EYES: Lochlan hopes participants of the wheelchair challenge will realise his day-to-day struggles. Meg Bolton

Wheelchair challenge set to be an 'eye opener'

LOCHLAN Thomas is ready for Lockyer Valley representatives and community members to experience 24 hours of his everyday life.

This Friday the 18-year-old who has been a wheelchair since birth will lead participants of the 24-hour wheelchair challenge across the region in a bid to improve accessibility.

Mr Thomas said he hoped the challenge will also highlight the challenges he faced every day.

"They will experience what it's like living day-to-day life in a wheelchair and showing them basically the ins and outs of what I have to go through to live a daily life style," Mr Thomas said.

Accessibility has been an issue his whole life but since moving to the Lockyer Valley six months ago life has been more difficult than usual.

"Trying to manoeuvre myself around not even in a park but just on some of the footpaths around Gatton aren't the greatest footpaths to be driving along," Mr Thomas said.

"Getting into some of the local businesses in town is just a nightmare because half of them aren't wheelchair accessible."

Even short trips to the corner shop on his electric mobility chair are a hassle for the young adult as cars often block the footpath.

"Just going to IGA and to Hatton Vale state school has been a bit of a challenge because down on Fairways Drive there is no footpath," he said.

"I have to go down on the road and come onto oncoming traffic."

Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald, along with councillors Chris Wilson and Michael Hagan are just some of participants who will spend 24 hours restricted to a wheelchair.

Starting in Gatton participants will travel to various locations across the region to experience life as someone in a wheelchair.

Mr Thomas said their experience will be an "eye-opener".

"They will realise how many able-bodied people park in disabled car parks and how much of an inconvenience it is for those people who have disabilities," he said.

The challenge is an initiative of the Lockyer Valley Rotary club, Toastmasters and the council.

Lockyer Valley Rotary club president Regina Samykanu said she hoped the challenge raises enough money to make Rotary Park wheelchair accessible.

"We are doing this to promote wheelchair awareness because our parks and facilities should be pram and wheelchair friendly," Ms Samykanu said.

"If someone wants to go and have a BBQ they should be able to without calling two or three people to have them."

The challenge will finish at Rotary park at 11am on Saturday where all are welcome to join participants for a barbecue.


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