Turning looks into conversations


By Matthew Le Blanc

Imagine having to park your car three blocks away from your destination and hiking it through busy city streets. Add in some rain or harsh winter conditions where ice and three-foot snow banks acted as obstacles. Now imagine yourself travelling that same route with a disability.

This is a situation Dylan Lindsay must face every day as a student at Mohawk.

Lindsay is a second year Radio Broadcasting student who was born with cerebral palsy. Every day he drives in from Cambridge and chooses between walking from the Beer Store located on Upper James and taking his chances parking without a pass in Mohawk’s parking lot.

“If I paid for parking, my one whole months salary would be gone,“ says Lindsay. “I don’t have the affordability, especially having to pay for tuition and another $300 in books, and then they want me to pay $15 a day for parking unless I get a $200 pass.”

Lindsay receives a Disability Pension of $732 a month and makes another $160 from his part-time job at Roger’s Video.

“I’m at school to work myself off disability,” explains Lindsay. “But when you have $900 a month and you have to pay for rent, food, school and gas, it goes really fast when you have to budget around all these things.”

Lindsay praises radio for being a perfect career choice for someone in his shoes.
“I don’t have to walk. I sit on a chair and I push board buttons. I get to listen to music all day. I get to get excited because Kiss is on the radio.”

Lindsay points out that even though he is more mobile than other people with disabilities, simply walking through the parking lot or city streets can prove a challenge on the best of days. He describes his walking style as “wobbly”.

“I have good balance to a certain occasion, but I’m still walking up thinking if I slip, I’m going to cut my hand,” Lindsay says. “And ice is not my favourite thing, I will tell you that much. I might have to give myself more time to get here because I come from Cambridge.”

Lindsay wishes people were more sympathetic toward one another. He gave the example of a wheelchair running over broken glass, and the occupant cutting their hand while trying to get around. Little things like that are details more able bodied individuals might take for granted.

“It’s frustrating sometimes that people don’t understand and I feel for people that are in the school that are wheelchair bound,” Lindsay says. “I walk around and I know these people look at me and think if I could only do what that guy does.”

Despite the challenges he faces on a daily basis, Lindsay remains optimistic and says he lives his life as if he’s not disabled. When people stare, turn those looks into conversations.

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