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North Pole to be Made Wheelchair Accessible


  • Published: 2009-03-30 (Revised/Updated 2010-07-11) : Author: Team Independence '09
  • Synopsis: David Shannon and Christopher Watkins are preparing an expedition to the North Pole and will plant a Wheelchair Access Parking sign on the North Pole with a United Nations Canadian and Ontario flag.

Canadian Lawyers, Activists And Individuals With A Disability Prepare for Polar Expedition.

Canadian Will Be First Quadriplegic To Reach North Pole 100 Years After Peary And Henderson Expedition

Message of Disabled Arctic Expedition One Of Environmental Change And Overcoming Barriers

Thunder Bay Lawyers and social activists David Shannon and Christopher Watkins are preparing an expedition to the North Pole. Their arrival date is scheduled for April 11, 2009, nearly 100 years to the day since Admiral Robert Peary and Matthew Henson first visited the extreme northern frontier.

To mark this achievement Dave and Chris will plant a Wheelchair Access Parking sign on the North Pole along with a United Nations, Canadian and Ontario flag.

The purpose of the expedition is to promote independent living for all members of our community. Dave and Chris will illuminate and educate citizens regarding the barriers placed against the disabled within society, and how those barriers can be overcome. Media is invited to go to www.teamindependence.ca for more information respecting this journey.

The Shannon-Watkins North Pole Expedition 2009 is international in scope. It is lead by Canadians and supported by a multi-national team. Dave Shannon said, "this journey to one of history`s ubiquitous barriers allows everyone an opportunity to appreciate the advancements made for persons with a disability. For example we can point to such major human rights milestones as The Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act and The United Nations Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities."

Dave and Chris intend to highlight the fact that removing obstacles to community inclusion of persons with a disability such as poor environmental design, poverty and unemployment requires international cooperation from all of us. This approach to change for disabled persons can have even farther reaching outcomes for our communities by also reducing the adverse effects of climate change and inspiring international peace building.

As Chris Watkins said, "to have a quadriplegic reach the North Pole almost 100 years after Peary and Henson is to show that while change may take time, through broad positive action, there are no dreams too big to dream, and there are no challenges too big to overcome.

As a message for young people, Shannon and Watkins hope to visit Santa Claus when on the North Pole. While there they expect that Santa will want them to tell children it is very important to cooperate, and that they should be very proud of who they are. It is our similarities not our differences that matters. Dave and Chris will follow up this visit with a tour to elementary schools and children's groups highlighting this story.

In order to cross the ice, Team Independence has designed a sled that allows Shannon's wheelchair to be fastened in place. Shannon then self-propels with adapted walking sticks with Watkins ahead pulling on a tether.

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