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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

County, Essex raise new flag to kick-off AccessAbility Week


by Sylene Argent

The Town of Essex and the County of Essex each hosted a flag raising recently to kick-off the start of the nationally recognized AccessAbility Week, which is celebrated annually during the first week of June.

  Both events featured the raising of the newly created Accessibility flag, which was designed for each of the seven municipalities in the region to use.

  The Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee created the new, regional accessibility flag, with the intent it will be raised during National Accessibility Week in a more cohesive show of support for a more inclusive and accessible Essex County.

  It features seven chevrons, one for each of the municipalities of Essex County, symbolizing how they are moving forward in the right direction.

  “We have made progress, but there is still work to be done,” Essex County Warden, and Tecumseh Mayor, Gary McNamara, said during the County’s flag raising at the Essex Civic & Education Centre on Monday morning. “Accessibility should not be an afterthought. It should be front in the mind when launching new projects.”

  Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee (ECAAC) Chairperson, Christine Easterbrook, and Vice Chairperson, Kingsville Deputy Mayor Gord Queen, spoke about the importance of recognizing AccessAbility Week at the Wednesday, May 18 regular meeting of County Council.

  “The intention is to celebrate contributions of Canadians with disabilities and raise awareness of the importance of accessibility and inclusion in our Country,” Easterbrook said, also providing thanks to the Essex Accessibility Advisory Committee for bringing the regional flag idea to the County-level.

This year’s AccessAbility Week theme is “Moving Forward Together.”

  June 1 will be recognized as red shirt day, Easterbrook added. This will invite people across the nation to wear red to create a visible display of solidarity in a show of support to those with disabilities, and their families. In addition, it will celebrate the achievements of those with disabilities, and pledge commitment to creating a fully-accessible and inclusive society that honours and values the contributions of people of all abilities.

  On Sunday, the Town of Essex hoisted the Accessibility Flag.

  “Essex is committed to responding to the needs of every individual,” Essex Mayor Richard Meloche said, adding the improvements in municipal infrastructure to be more inclusive would not be possible without the input of the Essex Accessibility Advisory Committee.

  Meloche thanked the committee’s members for working to ensure the Town of Essex remains as inclusive as possible.

  The Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee is in its second-year of its “We Check the Trail” initiative.

  “Last year, our Committee launched the project to improve accessibility on our many kilometers of trails throughout Essex County,” Easterbrook said, noting the Committee started out by focusing on trails belonging to ERCA.

  Volunteers were asked to walk the trails to report safety hazards and rate accessibility via an online form.

  In phase two, taking place this year, some CWATS trails are being added to the project. Because of the enormity of the project, it will be ongoing for years to come, Easterbrook said.

Log onto www.countyofessex.ca/wecheckthetrails to fill out a form.

  The Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee also recently purchased two benches for ERCA trails; one will be placed in the Sadlers’ Pond area, the other in McGregor.  

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