An Upward Journey

Excerpts of Stories by or About Persons with a Disability

Inclined plane: A flat surface, raised at one end, one of the six classical simple machines as explained by Renaissance scientists. By increasing the distance over which the load is moved, it reduces the force needed to move the load. That’s physics.

Peter has always liked physics, almost as much as he likes definitions; it provides him with a simple and clear explanation of the world.

When Peter was born, the doctor explained to his parents that their son would not be able to walk. Nevertheless, as soon as he left infanthood he zoomed around the neighbourhood on his wheelchair – much to Mom’s chagrin – as fast as any of the other boys on their legs. In childhood, he had no fears and bowed to nothing.

Except stairs.

Unfortunately for Peter, the entrance to his family’s house doesn’t have a ramp. It has stairs. When he was small, Peter’s Dad would carry him up and down the stairs. It was fine until he got to about age twelve, when he started to feel embarrassed about being carried. It wasn’t a situation that he enjoyed, but he could deal with it – until the day his Dad fell with him down the stairs.

Mom was just saying how Peter must have hit a growth spurt, he was growing so fast. He felt his Dad’s body shudder a bit as he lifted him, and then they both hurtled towards the ground. Peter was miraculously unhurt however his Dad ended up in a back brace.

Inclined plane: A simple machine that reduces the force needed to carry a load, proportionally to the sine of the angle to the ground.

That day, staring at the strappy back brace, Peter realized that he himself was a load for his father – a load that could be reduced with a simple machine.

That was science, simple and clear science.

When Peter asked his Mom, he learned that the price of installing a wheelchair ramp was a very, very large number.

That was finance, awful and inconvenient finance.

Funding: Money provided for a particular purpose.

In Peter’s case, the purpose was scientific. He would build his favourite simple machine.

Inclined ramp: A project that requires funding and construction workers and measuring and hammering and wood planks and the delicious prospect of autonomy.

Autonomy: Independence or freedom, of one’s actions or one’s will. Achievable with an inclined plane.

Peter’s Dad has finally healed and is able to carry his son again, execpt he doesn’t have to anymore. With a ramp fully installed, Peter is able to enter his house unaided and move as freely as he once did as a child. All it took was some help from WSFC and an inclined plane, and that’s the facts.

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