Breaking Barriers Campaign: Dr. Augustina Naami Donates Wheelchair Ramps To Foster Accessibility For Persons With Disabilities

In a significant stride towards creating a barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities, Dr. Augustina Naami demonstrated her commitment to inclusivity by donating eight wheelchair ramps to the Ghana Society of the Physical Disadvantages in Kaneshie on Sunday, December 10th.

The wheelchair ramps were strategically placed to enhance accessibility at key locations within the society’s premises. Six ramps were installed at the entrances of bathroom facilities, ensuring that individuals with disabilities can navigate these spaces with ease. Additionally, two ramps were dedicated to toilet facilities, while another was placed at the sales outlet, providing accessibility to the point where products are sold.

One of the notable improvements was the installation of a concrete cover over a previously open gutter in the middle of the school. The concrete cover replaced a split metal cover, which was identified as a potential hazard for individuals with disabilities. Dr. Naami’s donation addressed this concern, making the environment safer and more accessible for everyone.

Dr. Augustina Naami expressed her motivation for the donation, stating that the primary goal was to empower individuals with disabilities to move freely without the fear of falling or encountering unnecessary stress. Her commitment to the Breaking Barriers campaign is rooted in the belief that every person, regardless of physical ability, should have equal access to facilities and opportunities.

The centre manageress of the Ghana society for the socially disadvantaged in Kaneshie, Mrs Evelyn Ampadu on behalf of the occupants and management of the centre expressed gratitude for Dr. Naami’s generosity, emphasizing the positive impact these wheelchair ramps will have on the daily lives of their members.

“The management and students utilizing the facility extend a warm and sincere thank you to Dr. Augustina Naami for her invaluable donation of wheelchair ramps. The impact of this philanthropic gesture transcends the mere installation of ramps; it extends to the profound transformation of daily experiences for individuals with disabilities within the facility.

Prior to the installation of these ramps, occupants faced significant challenges accessing essential areas such as bathrooms and other facilities. The fear of falling and sustaining injuries created a barrier that impeded their freedom of movement and, consequently, their overall quality of life. However, with the introduction of the wheelchair ramps, a palpable sense of relief and empowerment now exist in the facility.

The positive impact of Dr. Naami’s donation is already resonating throughout the facility. Students and staff alike express their newfound sense of security and comfort, as these ramps not only address physical barriers but also alleviate the emotional toll associated with navigating a world that may not always be designed with inclusivity in mind.

This act of generosity has created a ripple effect, inspired hope and fostering a stronger sense of community within the facility. The management and students look forward to a future where such acts of kindness continue to pave the way for a more inclusive and compassionate society. Dr. Augustina Naami’s donation has not only built physical ramps; it has constructed bridges of understanding, empathy, and support, creating a legacy that will resonate for years to come.”

Dr. Augustina Naami, a distinguished senior lecturer and the Head of the Department of Social Work at the University of Ghana Legon, is leading a transformative initiative with the Breaking Barriers campaign. Focused on the creation of a barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities, Dr. Naami’s campaign is rooted in extensive research conducted in 2018, revealing the profound impact of access barriers on the socio-economic, political participation, and psychological well-being of individuals with disabilities.

The culmination of this research effort resulted in an evidence-based manual that serves as a practical guide to address major physical and transportation barriers faced by persons with mobility disabilities. Dr. Naami’s vision is to bridge the gap between research and actionable change, ensuring that the insights gleaned from her academic work translate into tangible improvements in the lives of those facing accessibility challenges.

Putting her ideas into practice, Dr. Naami initiated the campaign in 2020 by designing an accessible, portable, and foldable wheelchair ramp. The campaign gained further momentum in 2022 when she constructed six accessible ramps across five public basic schools in the Ga East Educational Directorate.

On December 10th, Dr. Naami took a significant step forward by donating eight wheelchair ramps to the Ghana Society of the Physical Disadvantages in Kaneshie. This donation, strategically placed at key points within the society, including bathroom and toilet facilities, as well as the sales outlet, signifies a commitment to enhancing accessibility, inclusion, and safety for persons with disabilities.

The Breaking Barriers campaign sets a goal of constructing a minimum of five ramps annually, contributing not only to local communities but also aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 11, “Make Cities and Human Settlements Inclusive, Safe, Resilient And Sustainable.” Dr. Naami emphasizes that persons with disabilities are integral to the vision of a sustainable future, as underscored by the theme for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2023: “United in action to rescue and achieve the sustainable development goals for, with, and by persons with disabilities.”

Dr. Naami advocates for increased representation of persons with disabilities in decision-making processes, urging a departure from tokenism to ensure their voices are genuinely heard. She calls upon governments and stakeholders to align their rhetoric with action by allocating budgets for disability inclusion. Dr. Naami emphasizes the importance of collaboration, noting that, despite not being an engineer herself, she collaborates with a mason without formal education to construct ramps that are more accessible for persons with disabilities.

In her rallying cry, Dr. Augustina Naami invites everyone to join hands in making environments more accessible, fostering an inclusive society that paves the way for the full participation and integration of persons with disabilities. The Breaking Barriers campaign stands as a testament to the power of grassroots efforts in driving meaningful change and breaking down the barriers that hinder the progress of an inclusive society.

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