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My friend Diego and myself were on a mission to test New York. I had to visit schools and Diego, the CEO of 2gether, had a birthday dinner and meetings to attend. Diego is a happy owner of a wheelchair, so we rolled to New York..

It was exhausting. For the transport from Washington to New York, it was necessary to unsettle the wheelchair in two parts. One of the two is extremely heavy. The employee did not help us with a good heart.

Arrived at New York, it was necessary to settle the wheelchair in one part. Then, we faced many difficulties. A simple difficulty becomes enormous.

Luggage in hand, I put his backpack behind his wheelchair.  My friend decided to make everything on foot because as he says, “everybody cannot offer himself a taxi”. Sometimes, my friend remained stuck by coming down from the  pavement  with his wheelchair. And unfortunately, a few subway stations are accessible to  people in wheelchairs. My friend looked on Google which station could be easily accessible. He found nothing …

On the 31th avenue, we met Mario, a Cuban man. My friend Diego is always positive. Thanks to his incredible personality, he got on with Mario, our new companion of adventure.

But even with three people and my suitcases in hand, I found the experience very extreme. As for Diego, he always remained smiling. He refused to take the taxi by solidarity with those who cannot offer it.

Tired, we had coffee in a small park of New York to rest. Diego had to go to a birthday dinner at about 6 pm. We did not thus have time to go to the hotel. Always motivated, Diego wanted to fetch tickets of a musical to Time Square. We gave it up and we waited to go to the restaurant in this park.

Arrived at the restaurant, there was a supposed bell to be at the disposal of the people with reduced mobility. The bell was not accessible to my friend because of a staircase. I thus rang for him.

Then, we used one completely unstable wheelchair access ramp.

My friend recharged battery of his wheelchair while we were eating. My friend always had the smile on his lips.

At the end of the meal, we disconnected the battery, placed elements on the chair, …

Then, we have booked an Uber taxi. Still there, the driver had to help us to unsettle the wheelchair and to put it in the chest without damaging it. I accompanied my friend up to his hotel. There were small staircases, … I helped him to put his wheelchair in his chamber, … My friend had giggles and he told me that he is always so when he is exhausted.

My friend is a hero. He refuses to have a limited life. He wants to be able to go everywhere if he wants it, …

My friend is my hero. He told me: ” Welcome to my life, but it is a lot of fun “.

If you knew what is the life on a wheelchair, you would make something to improve it.

New York, you can do better. Diego, I love you, you are my hero.

Nawale Harchaoui,

Psychopedagogist, psychomotor therapist and international social entrepreneur.

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