An Open Letter to the Parents on the school run

Image taken from behind of my 6 year old daughter, wearing a blue gingham school dress, walking ahead of me slightly on the pavement on the school run

Dear fellow Mum or Dad,

The school run can be the most stressful part of a parents day, – what with unpredictably (or predictably) un-cooperative children, running back to the house because you forgot the P.E bag(s) for the 2nd week running or simply making it there on time or be faced with the dreaded “attendance officer” threat as you try to sneak your child past the snooty receptionist, even when you’re just 30 seconds late. I get that, because I’m a parent too!

Like lots of you, I’m frantically legging it, literally dragging my poor child in the pouring rain because not all people have cars. Or I’m just legging it in general! Well my version of legging it – in a powered wheelchair. See I have one extra thing to think about on the school run, as do many other disabled parents like me, and that’s you! “Me?” I hear you question in your mind, yep that’s right. Whether you will think of parents like me or disabled children on the school run when you decide each morning where you can park that’s closest to the school in the fight for a good place.

Although I know in my heart you don’t park on the pavement just to be awkward or malicious to pavement go-ers like me, it’s hard some days to keep my composure as I try to explain to my 6-year-old daughter why Mummy has to divert off the pavement, onto a busy road in her wheelchair, and leave her to squeeze past your parked car and hope we both make it to the other side unscathed. A million thoughts go through my mind as I let go of her hand;

  • Will somebody grab her the moment she’s out of my sight like in the stories in the news? Afterall it only takes a second for a child to be snatched.
  • Will I be honked at and judged by angry drivers as they see a wheelchair user in the road, unbeknownst to them why I’m forced to be there…or will this morning be the morning one driver doesn’t see me, because let’s face it I’ve been pretty lucky so far.
  • How far will I have to drive alongside the pavement, weaving in and out of rows of parked cars because now I cannot even get back up because those cars also park on the dropped kerbs I rely on to get up/down to safety.
  • What am I teaching my child about road safety here? Even though I know it’s beyond my control.

Want to know what’s even more frightening? When I have my 3-year-old strapped on my lap and I’m forced into the road because society just doesn’t think. This is my reality on the school run.

You can change that in 2 simple ways…

  1. Please be mindful of not blocking or otherwise parking on dropped kerbs. Dropped kerbs are ESSENTIAL to wheelchair users to access pavements full stop!

  2. Please leave enough room for a wheelchair user/ parent with a pushchair/ senior or disabled person with a walking frame to get past your parked car. Just because you may not see us often, doesn’t mean we won’t cross paths.

Sincerely,

The Mum in the wheelchair at the school gate


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8 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Parents on the school run

  1. Oh you are so right, this is why I don’t go out alone. I haven’t done the school run more than twice in 3 years. My husband takes them in the car. It’s made him very mindful about where he parks and he’ll stop someone he sees going to park on a drop kerb. Until you are faced with this situation it’s so hard to understand, so thanks for writing this.

  2. So true, and so well expressed … the thoughtlessness of people in social situations … for the sake of a few seconds gained, but disregarding the domino effect created by those few seconds.

  3. You have my full understanding here. As someone who has spent most of her working life supporting adults several if whom are wheelchair users I know just how dangerous and frustrating it is when cars block the pavements.
    #abitofeverything

  4. Inconsiderate parking is something that really annoys me too, and especially when it’s near a school. I’m so sorry that you have to go through all that on the school run. #kcacols

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