A Derry teenager has said he is delighted that new ramps are being installed in the area around his home which will accommodate his wheelchair.
Jim O’Brien, from Greenwalk, off Fanad Drive, in Creggan had been encountering problems getting around after receiving a new wheelchair he can operate himself last year.
The lack of ramps in the region however, meant the 17-years-old St. Joseph’s Boys’ School pupil was unable to access local shops and services, or visit people in the area.
Jim first requested the new ramps last year and said he was delighted that the work is now progressing to lower pavements so he has access to various parts of the estate.
He had contacted Creggan Sinn Fein Councillor, Kevin Campbell who, in turn, contacted Transport NI and arranged for officials to come to Creggan. At the site visit, officials met with Jim and Colr. Campbell and witnessed the problems he had crossing roads safely from pavement to pavement in his new chair.
Jim said yesterday: “I’m very pleased with the new ramps. I asked for them last summer.
“It means a lot to me as it gives me a lot of independence and let’s me get to my local shops and let’s me do what I want.”
He added: “I can go anywhere I want so I can meet new people and go visit other friends and family.”
Colr. Campbell said the works are now under well under way to install the ramps across the area.
“I have been working with Joe and I am absolutely delighted for him,” he said.
“He wants his independence and this now gives him his freedom and independence to go out and meet people or go and do his shopping.
“It has taken a while but they are dropping the pavements in 13 areas.
“Jim had had problems trying to get from his house up to places like the Creggan Shops, the Old Library Trust and the club at the Corn Beef Tin, St. Mary’s Youth Club, and Creggan Neighbourhood Partnership.
“He was locked in an environment, not of his making, but now this gives him the freedom to go and access these facilities.
“Jim is a great young fellah and he loves getting out and about and meting people and socialising so this will be great for him.”
Colr. Campbell said that while Jim will reap the benefits of the works currently under way in Creggan, many other local people will also be able to access a lot more services due to the lowered pavements.
“This is also very beneficial for other people who have problems negotiating the roads such as mothers and fathers with prams, other people with wheelchairs and people.”
Colr. Campbell added that local people with mobility issues, including some older residents living in the Creggan area, will also be able to use the ramps to cross the road more safely.