Yesterday, at the gym. (Now there is a statement that, at one time, I could not imagine myself saying.) Another disabled guy rolled in and scooted up the ramp. He stopped and introduced himself and I said that I was glad not to be the only wheelchair user there. He wholeheartedly agreed. I was working on one machine and he was working on another nearby. We began to chat.
As we both talked about why we were working out, we discussed primarily maintaining or improving the strength we have as disabled people to keep ourselves mobile and safe. Falling down and getting back up being a big one for him and rolling long distances without assistance being big for me. We further identified issues that were peculiar to each of us and our needs as disabled people.
The folks who are there running the gym are quick to give assistance and advice. They are helpful and friendly and surprisingly quite kind. (These were not things I was expecting.) I appreciate what they do. But this chat was different, it was nice to talk to someone else with a similar mobility disability, it was nice to talk about muscle groups that needed working and the importance of doing everything we can to maintain what we have.
His disability is different than mine, of course because all disability is idiosyncratic, and he can transfer onto the machines. It was cool to see the scooter sitting beside the machine, empty, waiting, like a service vehicle, for it's master's return. It was cool.
While we were there a couple came in, maybe in their 40's, she used a walker, they were there to tour the gym to see if it might work for them. The look of real happiness on her face as she stood at the top of the ramp and saw two other disabled people working out amongst all the rest, the young, the strong, the fit. I don't know if she thought that this was integration or inclusion or whatever, but I know she saw something that mattered, a place where she wouldn't be the only one.