Well it’s almost become an annual event, the traditional ‘Paseo por la Jungla’ (Stroll through the Jungle) as they call it, which was organised once again by the Association of Parents of Students with Special Educational Needs (Apanee), to highlight the problems of accessibility in the town.
The march began from the Town Hall, local supporters, parents, children and students, many of them in wheelchairs, and all belonging to APANEE. There were also a number of local politicians who joined in the walk, including the former leader of the PP government, José Manuel Dolón.
As in previous years all the walkers were accompanied by the band, bugles and drums of the Brotherhood of San Juan Evangelista, who ensured that they all walked along in a festive spirit.
They were led by two banners, the first of which said “Add smiles and remove barriers” which is exactly what the group set out to do.
The purpose of the walk seemed fairly obvious, to all, at least, but the members of the Torrevieja town council who have an extremely poor track record when it comes to providing essential access for the hundreds of residents in the town with disabilities.
In an ageing population, there are people who use wheelchairs and crutches; people with cerebral palsy; people who are blind or have low vision; people who are deaf or hard of hearing; people with intellectual or developmental disabilities like Down’s syndrome or autism, people with mental health problems, and those many others who suffer from multiple disabilities. All have been asking for such improvements for many years but, despite their requests, it would appear that few have been accomplished.
Apanee, an institution that is presided over by Isis Albaladejo, currently helps sixty students who all suffer from such disabilities. A charitable trust, it provides different specialists, therapists and medical personnel, who afford personal attention to those in need, usually just once a week, but for those who need additional care, up to two or three times a week.
A spokesman said “We are not asking for anything more than those things that should be provided as basic human rights, just small things to those who can get around town without difficulty, but to the students of APANEE and to the many hundreds of more residents in the town, they would make such a big, big difference. Pavement and building access that is ramped, additional parking spaces for the disabled and the infirm, wheelchair lifts on local buses and Braille on signposts.”
“Planners and architects should be made to consider these issues more carefully with ongoing projects and building that are being considered for the future but more importantly, for those who are currently suffering in our city, where there are accessibility challenges the necessary improvements must be made as a matter of some urgency,” he said.