Getting Out and About

It’s Spring! Or it’s supposed to be! Calgary saw a few little flakes of ‘dandruff’ yesterday, or was it the day before? I can’t keep track of the days anymore. They just float by, just like that white stuff we all wish would go away!

But we did have a few spring-like days recently. The sun shining, temperatures hovering just below, and slightly above, the double-digit mark. We’re getting there.

A thought dawned on me this morning. As the weather improves and the covid numbers remain at or below their current levels and all those restrictions aren’t replaced, more of us will be out and about getting that much needed, long overdue, vitamin D. Being downtown has its advantages. My son and I can walk to so many places. Princes Island Park, Bow River Pathway, to the Central Library, Dentist, Optometrist and so on. But, what about those of you located out in the burbs with limited access to parks, services, etc.? For those of us who can’t drive or don’t have a vehicle or easy access to family and friends to act as chauffeur, what’s left but expensive cabs, Uber, or just staying home walking circles around your neighbourhood just to get out?

Here in Calgary, there’s Transit Access and areas of BC have HandiDart, services where a small bus, or a Checkers Cab as in Calgary, arrives at your door, takes you to your destination and will bring you back. Transit Access costs a single bus ticket each way, provides a 20-minute pick up window, pre-book via phone or online. A few forms completed by your GP, an interview, and once approved, you’re good to go. I never used the HandiDart system, not aware of their approval process or how it works but it’s a service that’s been in place for as long as I can remember.

But back to the lightbulb that lit up this morning. It dawned on me, that the SMU at Foothills services a massive area in Southern Alberta and beyond. That I’ve spoken with patients from other cities faced with the dilemma of getting around just as I did. Epilepsy affects so many areas of our daily lives. The physical, emotional, and cognitive functions people take for granted. Our ability to recall information, follow instructions, manage our anxieties while out in a world full of noise and movement, is diminished, in most cases. Such as, loud noises, vehicles zipping by, and a sense of direction no longer functionable, overwhelms me, increasing my anxiety levels almost to a state of panic. So. How does one get around? How do I get around without dragging my son with me? My son who’s going to SAIT, has a heavy course load, is finally on his way to making a life of his own?

That’s where Calgary Transit came into play. Cheaper than a taxi, providing that same door-to-door service, including assistance navigating icy sidewalks and snow-covered roads. Yes, it may take a bit longer. Like a tour bus I may be driven through other neighbourhoods picking up or dropping off other users such as myself.  But really. What else have I to do? My life is a weekly assortment of doctors’ appointments and volunteer shifts. Besides, I get to know Calgary better, see how ‘the other half lives’ so to speak and meet new people. A win-win in my books.

So., I pulled out my laptop, woke it up and began to Google. There must be other communities that offer similar services. Whether through municipal services or charities, surely there must be some resources to tap into. Well, wouldn’t you know I found a site, a directory so to speak listing out various services for a slew of cities throughout Alberta. Places such as Grande Prairie, Hinton, Airdrie, Cold Lake, Lethbridge, Edmonton, and Fort Saskatchewan to name a few.

Services provided by Dial-A-Bus in Whitecourt, Community Bus Services in Onoway, and Handivan in High Level, Courtesy Driver in Vulcan, Edmonton’s Disabled Adult Transit Service, and on, and on. So many services. So many Options. Resources just sitting there hidden amongst search engines, invisible to those who need them, wouldn’t know to even look. I’d never have thought to apply to Transit Access if my psychologist hadn’t mentioned it. When I lived in BC, no one talked about my mobility issues at first. I’d gone a year or two before connecting with the Sources driver program, a wonderful charity based in White Rock offering transportation in exchange for a donation. An excellent service providing door-to-door delivery without the wait. Their drivers wait at your destination, sometimes keeping you company in the waiting room.

As with so many events, good and bad, I’ve encountered on my journey, I feel it’s my duty to share what I’ve learned. It’s my duty to share, to provide insight and inform on the bits and pieces I’ve picked up over the last 7 years. And to make this long post, shorter, I’ve copied the link to this fabulous web page below.

But Wait There’s More!!  (Sorry I couldn’t resist)

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has a spectacular, awesome, fabulous site listing all sorts of services and resources on transportation across the whole country!

Isn’t it amazing what you can find on the internet?

I hope this information I’ve shared comes in handy, whether for those with epilepsy or other such conditions where an extra pair of helping hands is necessary.

Enjoy the remaining days of March. May you all have clear skies and warm days, colourful gardens, and healthy and happy friends and family.