ROCKFORD (WREX) — A group of people are grabbing their shovels and getting to work in downtown Rockford to raise awareness about accessibility.
“A lot of people have worked really hard to make this neighborhood look nice and to make it accessible for pedestrians and we just want to keep it that way when there’s snow,” Bill Houtkamp said.
Houtkamp started the Downtown Rockford Pedestrians Coalition. He says he noticed a need for shoveling when he saw snow covering crosswalks in downtown Rockford.
The coalition got a group together Wednesday to shovel the snow off the crosswalk entrances to help out people with disabilities.
“I just want to make sure we don’t have pedestrians forced to walk in unsafe situations to avoid snow,” Houtkamp said.
“I just see my neighbors around here that are sometimes in wheelchairs or disabled and I want them to be able to get around Rockford just as easy as I do,” James Hogan, who also came out to shovel, said.
According to the group’s Facebook page, it plans to keep clearing sidewalks throughout the city as the need comes about.
RAMP Center for Independent Living, the Stateline’s disability community advocacy center, released a statement on the group’s effort saying,
“RAMP would like to thank the group of people from our community who took it upon themselves to address the snow that had piled up on the sidewalks and curb cuts in downtown Rockford. We genuinely appreciate their efforts.
Not having a clear sidewalk creates a barrier for many people with disabilities and prevents them from safely maneuvering around town. We think it is important that the City of Rockford Government work together with the businesses and advocacy groups to make sure that barriers like these are taken care of quickly.
Since being made aware of these issues RAMPs Education and Advocacy Coordinator has spoken with City of Rockford officials and we will be working together to address snow removal in order to make sure our community is accessible.”