Speech Given By A.J. Mitchell on Thursday, June 15, 1989 for the Official Opening of WindReach Farm
Before I begin, I want to personally thank everyone for coming WindReach on this special day. Knowing how much I do not like public speaking, my good friend, Paul Sullivan, who is today keeping this ceremony, hopefully in some kind of order, told me that, I must speak for ten minutes. If I make it shorter, I will have to stand here and look silly for the remainder of the time. Well, I am safe. I am speaking for more than ten minutes.
Now on the more serious side, many people have asked me, why I started this project. I usually replied that I want to help people who are less fortunate than myself. But after thought, I decided that it was much more than this.
Being outdoors, the fresh air, recreation or just relaxing in the sun or the rain is good for everyone! For the disabled in wheelchairs, or otherwise severely handicapped, it is even more important for them to have the chance to enjoy the Great Outdoors, as there are so few facilities and opportunities for them to do so. I was surprised when I recently learned, that WindReach was one of the few fully accessible outdoor recreational facilities in the Toronto area. Thus, there is a great need for places like Wind Reach, whether it is in the country or an urban setting.
As an offshoot to this, the first reason; I would like to think that WindReach will help people to appreciate the needs of the disabled, and from this, more places would become accessible to the less able.
My second reason, and probably more important to me, is to promote more integration between the disabled and abled. Every disabled person knows only too well of the looks and the belittlement that we get from unknowledgeable people. I personally know the hurt, and it does hurt, however much you try to laugh it off, when someone does not bother to try to understand me on the phone, or some damn fool laughs at you on the street because he thinks that you are drunk. Little does he know that I walk better when I am a little tipsy.
Although life is getting much better for the average disabled person, after having to force our way into society, there is still a lot to do before we are fully accepted into the main stream of society. Until this is achieved, I believe that equal rights between the disabled and abled persons will never be realized.
WindReach is undoubtedly spiritually uplifting for me, but as my ambitious nature reflects, I will not be contented until I see total integration and accessibility for everyone outside of this farm.
Before I sit down, I would like to introduce a person who I confide in, that I go to whenever there is a problem, and finally most of all, the best friend that a person could ever want. I have great pleasure introducing to you my better half, my wife, Maria. She will hopefully not tell the bad things about me. Please Maria be kind.