Through an App prototype we intend to better integrate wheelchair users in our society by putting lots of functions in their hands. We did a project at school that showed us there's empathy in our society. More than 80 students voluteered.
Our project is a result of our reflections during meetings we held to discuss social groups that present difficulties being integrated in Brazilian society. Due to the easy access and great amount of information we obtained from our teacher and founder of the non-profit VIDAS (www.vidas.org.br), Patricia Goloni Lolo, we decided to work with people with reduced mobility, wheelchair users.
A wheelchair user, regardless of age or gender, has a variety of ordeals in a large metropolis, among which are difficulties in mobility and social inclusion. The main complaint related to mobility is the awful condition of the sidewalks, often making it impossible for the physically disabled to move around properly and with dignity, being sometimes the victims of prejudice and swearing simply for moving slowly and with difficulty. Concerning social integration, people with disabilities complain about the lack of attention that the State provides when they need help with their challenges, such as the lack of investment in disease prevention and treatments offered to people with disabilities. In addition, discrimination in the work environment still haunts 36% of the physically disabled; this being the area that needs the most care and attention.
In our country, 7% of the population are wheelchair users; because of that, we started researching and interviewed people through our teacher, who is the founder of a non-profit for children with disabilities, VIDAS - www.vidas.org.br, and helped our group get interviews with mothers of children that use wheelchairs. At VIDAS, we asked them about the main difficulties that their children faced in everyday life. We concluded that such a group has great difficulty expressing themselves and having their doubts dealt with.
There are lots of apps related to wheelchair users and our app gathers together most of the features available. We decided to come up with a logo in order to create our profile in the market and differentiate ourselves from the rest. Now the logo has become our identity, and it represents our idea, showing a happy wheelchair user.
Through schoolmates, we have been able to contact the current mayor of São Paulo, João Doria. We are trying to schedule a meeting with him and the Secretary of Disabled People, Cid Torquato. In that meeting we intend to show them our App in order to generate a possible investment in the project by the city hall.
The methodology used in the project was based on the creation of an app. After our research, we concluded that wheelchair users needed support and guidance to feel more integrated in society. And the most practical way to promote this integration was to gather some features, such as an accessibility map, donation of chairs, and registration of complaints, and make them accessible in the palm of a person with a disability. At this moment, we are setting up the final tools of the app, in a partnership with the technology team of our school. Our app is called “REDE VIPS” (Network for the Experience and Integration of the Disabled, Friends and Relatives, In the Socio-Environmental Scope). This operational system will generate improvements in the quality of the social life of wheelchair users, promoting a symbiotic relationship in our society. And with that purpose in mind, we will be promoting empathy by means of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Aiming at reaching the entire school and in order to raise empathy among our schoolmates, we created the ''two-wheel experience'', where we invited the students from our school to spend a day in a wheelchair. More than 80 people registered to participate in the two-wheel experience. The number impressed us and motivated us as we realized that it is possible to help people with disabilities.
In a partnership with the sports department at our school, we promoted an event called ESPORTE SOLIDARIO, in which we invited a national wheelchair basketball team, the MAGIC HANDS, to make a performance and interact with the public. For this event, in partnership with other students in our school, we managed to collect a huge amount of food for the non-profit responsible for the MAGIC HANDS, an organization who cares for 270 children with disabilities.
On the official presentation day, we set up a wheelchair circuit with the aim that each visitor could have a little experience on a wheelchair. Besides that circuit, we also wrote a manifesto to show the government and the mayor of São Paulo, who had visited our stand, how people want this kind of intervention in our society. The manifesto had 70 signatures.
At first people looked at us with disdainful eyes. Over time, however, people began to understand and appreciate our initiative. A feeling of empathy took over our school. Students and teachers were mobilized for a single cause and the whole school atmosphere was changed. Pride was what we were feeling after all. Everyone knew that the hard work they had been doing so far was bringing results. But they knew that it was far from over since a lot still had to be done so that wheelchair users would be included in our society once for all.