**The following article was originally published in the January 2017 issue of The Beacon, The Olentangy High School newspaper and media class. I was given the amazing opportunity to guest write for the issue, and work with the amazing students and staff of The Beacon. All thanks to them. Any information in the article was researched and fact checked by multiple individuals. It is all opinion, and is in no way meant to harm or offend any individual**
A blue sign, a car and a license plate are all I have seen. Yet when I see your car parked in a handicapped space with no placard, I cannot deny the fire that burns in me. I feel the frustration of my fellow disabled friends, people with more courage to face their struggles than I’ve had at times.
Anyone who has asked you to park in a handicapped space because it “would only be for a few minutes” has instilled in you a wrong way of thinking. In a parking lot, for every 24 spaces added, only one of those must be handicapped, according to adata.org.
That’s four percent. We have four percent, leaving 96 percent for you. For every spot you take, we lose weekend plans, a steady job, freedom and independence.
And as the future approaches, I look toward it with uncertainty.
Because of dedicated doctors, we are now able to live the lives we do.
Because of the rise of the abuse, we see those lives fading away to black.
From the moment I was diagnosed with Spina bifida, I was blessed to have the strongest team of medical professionals made available to me and my family. It is because of the medical scientists and technological researchers working together that my life was immediately bettered. I am healthy, and I have a life to live.
I am not the girl in the wheelchair. I am the girl with the wheelchair.
Everyone has something they overcome, but it does not have to define them. For me, handicapped spaces exist to make my disability invisible. You may see it, but by allowing me the freedom to park where I can, I forget I look different.
We all deserve to have our hard-fought independence, and until the abuse of handicapped placards stops, I will not give up.
The future is here, and as it flies by, scientists will find new treatments, and inventors will create new ways for us to live our lives. Self driving cars are becoming more prevalent, and cars can now be modified for handicapped individuals. I’m proud to say
that I am part of the handicapped community: a group of people who do not give up, who understands what they need and will fight to live their lives. Your abuses are nothing compared to what we’ve already dealt with.
All I ask is that you think before you park.