Latest Laois Event: Make Way Day returns to Laois
‘Make Way Day’ returns to Laois.
“Make Way Day” is led by the Disability Federation of Ireland, as a unique collaboration across Ireland with the voluntary and local government sectors. Most of all, it’s about people with disabilities.
As part of ‘Make Way Day’ 2022, Healthy Laois and Laois County Council in collaboration with IWA, NCBI, NLN & Rehabcare Portlaoise, PPN Laois Sports Partnership, Laois Arthritis and Irish Guide Dogs, arranged the assessments of three towns in Laois.
A series of routes were identified and audited in Portlaoise , Stradbally and Rathdowney and despite the inclement weather conditions experienced on the day, a large turnout, with in excess of 70 people took part on Friday 30th September, supported by Volunteer Laois, SVT Activity and Wellness Hub and Rathdowney Errill Activity Hub and students from Dunamase College and St Mary’s CBS Portlaoise.
Welcoming the return of this successful campaign, Healthy Laois Co-Ordinator Emma O’Connor said “Make Way Day’ provided an opportunity to focus on the practical initiatives that we can all take together, to remove the barriers for people with disabilities in our community”.
Several routes were assessed with participants including Mr Jim Fennelly, who was pleased to have the opportunity to identify and highlight issues he encounters both as a disabled driver and also as a wheelchair user. Mr Pat Whelan who assessed one of the Portlaoise routes said “Being able to chat over coffee with the Council Engineer meant a lot to us, as we felt heard. It is the best way of consulting with people and I would love to see this becoming the norm.”
He was joined by Cllr Barry Walsh who having completed the route in a borrowed wheelchair said “The couple of hours spent with our tour guides certainly was an eye opener and highlighted the many obstacles faced by disabled persons, in trying to manoeuvre around the town. There is greater awareness required in considering the needs of all end users in all public facilities. In fairness, most of the new footpaths are considerate to all end users, but historical issues remain with the older footpaths. Through consultation and careful planning, I am confident these issues can be resolved with the help of Laois County Council”.
The ‘Make Way Day’ awareness campaign also links in with a recent request from Laois County Council, calling on householders and landowners/occupiers to please ensure that footpath and roadside hedges, overhanging trees, and bushes are cut and maintained, so that all pedestrians can travel safety along footpaths and at junctions.
Road safety is a shared responsibility; it’s about us all doing our share to make our footpaths and roads safer and to ensure the success of our Road Safety Strategy.
Cllr John King who attended the walks in Rathdowney said “this event has brought the staff and engineers of Laois County Council together with the wider community, to consider the needs of people with disabilities in the public spaces, that we all share. It has helped to create a greater link with Laois County Council and the people of Laois and has given me, as a Councillor an opportunity to explain the process of how matters raised with the Council are highlighted with us, as Local Representative. Then a Notice of Motion is raised at the monthly meetings and a plan of work is then put in place, subject to available budgets and current workload.”
Cllr Paschal McEvoy attended the Stradbally Event and commented that “we will all get older and a little bit less mobile, our eyesight might not be as good, as it used to be, cars parked on a footpath become unexpected obstacles and we all have a role to play in making our streets easier to navigate”.
“Make Way Day” has brought the disability and wider community together in Laois, and created a method to consider the needs of people with disabilities in the public spaces we share, highlighted these and working together then to find solutions. Laois Volunteer Manager, Caitriona Ryan said “Walking with the group was a real learning experience, you don’t realise the difficulties and challenges, that members of our community face every day, just trying to navigate our town centres. Identifying the challenges and obstacles, recording them and presenting our findings to our local authority will ensure that the necessary improvements can be made”.
Laois County Council hope to build on the success of this event and are already working on some of the issues highlighted.
“Hey, this blocks my way!” is our message.
For more information on this initiative please see: http://makewayday.com/