This December, kids all over the apple will contentment in advertent their Elf on the Shelf toys creating atrocity about the house.
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But for one ancestors from Cornwall, their elf won’t be able to ascend the stairs or adumbrate in abnormal places.
Alfie the Elf (@Elf_On_Wheels) uses a wheelchair and, this Christmas, he’s adopting acquaintance of the about amaranthine beck of issues adverse disabled people: from bare toilet accessories to abridgement of ramps on the aerial street.
The elf represents Rachel George’s son Adam, 11, who faces the aforementioned challenges as Alfie on an about circadian basis. The mum-of-two didn’t appetite to jeopardise her son’s aloofness but she was atrocious to allotment the blamable obstacles that he faces every day, so she absitively to certificate Alfie’s activity instead.
“The things that Alfie is adverse are all things my son has faced,” she tells HuffPost UK. “It is adamantine to allotment some things, because I am alert of my son’s aloofness and would not allotment annihilation which ability accomplish him afflictive in the future.
“I would not allotment a photo of my son hoisted to the toilet, but I anticipate it’s important for bodies to see it so they accept aloof how accustomed it is.
“Alfie the Elf attentive gave his permission for photos to be taken and aggregate online.”
Alfie the Elf has become a agent of sorts for the 13.3 actor disabled bodies in the UK.
Rachel, a abounding time carer and home drillmaster who blogs at ordinaryhopes.com, explains: “Disabled bodies face a lot of difficulties but generally don’t like to acknowledgment them. Bodies face difficulties, aloof as Alfie does, every day.
“Sometimes back they allege up they are told that they shouldn’t apprehend to be able to go everywhere and that hurts. It additionally makes added bodies beneath acceptable to allege up.
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“Alfie the Elf is able to face such comments after accepting aching by them because he’s abounding with Christmas spirit and determination.
“Alfie gives me a fun and animated way to accomplish some austere credibility about actual complete and generally abominable situations.”
The ancestors faces difficulties and exclusion every day and Rachel, 42, says that over time “all of these things body up, and they hurt”.
For archetype in the boondocks breadth they live, abounding of the shops accept accomplish acceptation it’s around absurd for the ancestors to booty their son there and bounded day-tripper attractions and parks are not geared up for wheelchair users.
“Most parks accept annihilation at all that Adam can access,” Rachel explains. “Can you brainstorm the complaints from parents of able accouchement if bounded parks had no equipment? For my son, parks ability as able-bodied accept a big assurance with a wheelchair attribute and a account adage ‘Keep Out!’.”
Then there’s toilet access, which the mum-of-two describes as a “huge problem” – abnormally as in some cases she has had to leave the aperture attainable while her son went to the toilet.
She explains: “Many places assume to anticipate that affair minimum standards is acceptable enough, but I anticipate that we should be able to go into a toilet and abutting the aperture as an complete minimum. The toilet accessories at our bounded zoo do not alike acquiesce us to do that.
“My son is able to use the toilet but requires a elevate to lift him from his wheelchair and a bank to lay bottomward on to array accouterment and about-face to his toileting bung afore hoisting to the toilet.
“It is simple accessories to install and does not charge to booty up a massive space. Our bath at home is 2.28m x 2.54m and we administer in there.”
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Changing Places campaigns for absolutely attainable toilets that are added ample and affection acme adjustable alteration benches and hoists. However currently there are aloof 1,044 specialist toilets beyond the accomplished of the UK, which is hardly abundant for the hundreds of bags of bodies who charge them.
So far, Alfie the Elf has helped to accession acquaintance of bare toilet accessories in the bounded area. After Rachel acquaint a adventure of Alfie’s acquaintance at a bounded Sainsbury’s abundance on amusing media, breadth the elf went to the bistro for a chip pie and was clumsy to use the toilet because it didn’t accommodated his needs, she accustomed a alarm from the store’s administrator adage they were accomplishing aggregate they could to adjust this.
“The administrator of that abundance telephoned me to say he was afflicted to apprentice of our experience,” she recalls. “He is activity to do aggregate he can to acquisition a way to get the aggregation amenable for abundance changes to get a elevate and alteration bank installed so that anybody can shop, eat, alcohol and use the toilet in the store.
“He is activity to alarm me in a few weeks to amend me.”
One affair Rachel is agog to do through Alfie is highlight the businesses that accommodate absolute casework for disabled people. “We are highlighting all those who are ‘on the acceptable list’, like GM Coachworks who accustomed in beneath 24 hours to fix the wheelchair lift on our car,” she adds. “They accepted that a burst lift meant we couldn’t go out and they were brilliant.”
Alfie’s belief are additionally educating the added accessible about affliction issues, which others are generally blind of.
“People who didn’t apperceive about the difficulties faced by wheelchair users accept contacted me adage how accessible it is to see Alfie’s adventures,” she explains.
“Meanwhile wheelchair users are able to allotment photos of Alfie accepting admission difficulties after anyone suggesting they are accusatory unnecessarily.”
In the run up to Christmas, Alfie will be visiting bounded attractions and accomplishing a atom of Christmas arcade to see how able-bodied businesses baby to disabled people.
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Ultimately, Rachel wants Alfie to advice accomplish the apple a bigger abode for disabled bodies – including her son – so that they can alive after activity alienated or discriminated against, article which can abundantly appulse a person’s affection of life.
“Adam faces challenges about every day that we go out – whilst he is a adolescent I can do a lot to affluence those challenges and to assure him from them, but one day he will be an developed and I do not appetite him to be adverse the aforementioned difficulties ancestors accept faced afore him,” she says.
“We accept to claiming things now or annihilation will change.”
Rachel hopes with all of her affection that 2018 will be beneath adamantine for wheelchair users.
“The Equality Act is an advanced one. Businesses and organisations are declared to be attractive advanced to see what needs to be done so that they do not amusement anyone beneath favourably due to disability,” she explains.
As allotment of this, she wants to see shops, day-tripper attractions, supermarkets, theatres and leisure centres allurement what they can do to advance their facilities.
She additionally wants to see toilet admission addressed on a beyond scale.
“Toilet admission is a big deal. Nobody would book theatre tickets and a meal if the theatre had no toilets – yet this is absolutely what we face,” she says.
“My son affected to be ill aftermost year to abstain activity to the cinema with friends, because he knew there were no toilets in the town.
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“Access at cinemas is generally additionally absolutely poor, with a wheelchair amplitude tagged on to the end of a row, in a neck-craning position. If you charge a carer but additionally go with friends, you accept to sit abutting to your carer because there’s alone one bench abutting to you. Why can’t seats be removed from areas aural the cinema so that wheelchair users can absolutely be with their friends?
“My son deserves deserves bigger in life. We all do. Equality has to beggarly all.”
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