Four Mexico residences and one Audrain County home were chosen recently to take part in a free ramp-building project, designed to give persons with disabilities more mobility and freedom.
The inaugural ramp building project, sponsored Nov. 3 in Boone, Audrain and Callaway counties, is a program function of the Assistive Technology Department at Services for Independent Living (SIL) – which has offices in Columbia, Moberly and Mexico.
The Ramp Up project was a one day wheelchair and home access ramp building event for people with disabilities who need a ramp at their home to live more safely.
"Ramp Up is a community opportunity to impact lives individually. Independence is the greatest gift to give and receive," said Mexico SIL Executive Director Aimee Wehmeier. The event, she said, was a collaborative effort of volunteers, SIL staff and hard work that in the end "achieved independence."
SIL's goal was to build 14 wheelchair and home access ramps for individuals with disabilities – five in Audrain County, three in the city of Mexico. A 12' ramp was built in the Park Crest neighborhood. A 33' ramp was constructed on Falcon Drive. A 45' ramp was built on South Kentucky, and a two-part 14' ramp was built on Paris Road. A 12'-15' ramp was built on State Road DD, near Centralia, still in Audrain County.
The volunteer build teams were: Lloyd's Lumberjacks, Harlan Applebee & Helpers; the Mexico United Methodist Church; Pi Kappa Phi No. 2; and the Mexico First Baptist Church.
"For a lot of people with changing abilities, it becomes very difficult for them to get out of the home, they don't feel safe, they just can't do it, and they can't do it independently," said Scout Merry, assistive technology manager from SIL, who is in charge of its ramp projects and working with businesses and individuals who are interested in building them. "So we are building ramps to increase their independence. So they can get out of their homes safely and by themselves with this ramp."
"We are intentional in our efforts to become a resource to all the communities we serve," Wehmeier added.
Beside the Ramp Up project, SIL has built about 35 ramps this year, and has multiple on-going ramp projects. The project costs about $11,000 in total materials. Each ramp cost about $300 to $2,000 in materials and the average cost is about $800. Much of the money comes from donations and sponsors and SIL staff. Services for Independent Living is the only agency that builds ramps in the Mexico and Columbia areas with no cost for residents. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given the agency $40,000 for the 2013 fiscal year.
Services for Independent Living is a non-profit Center for Independent Living that promotes independence for persons with disabilities by following the Independent Living philosophy that states "All persons, regardless of disability, are entitled to and should have equal access to the rights and responsibilities that other citizens are provided; to be as active and productive a member of society as they choose."
For more information about Services for Independent Living progress and/or the Ramp Up project, call (573) 581-1744 or visit the Mexico Branch Office at 508 Muldrow Street. Or call toll free at 800-766-1968.