My day of being in a wheelchair is horrible. It’s horrible because of my circumstance. I want to be able to walk like other people. I want to kick a ball like other people. I want to be like a normal person. Not because I’m normal now, you know what I mean? I want to be more normal than the average person. Physically, I can’t go to the bathroom by myself, feed myself, put my shirt on or go in the pool. I want to be able to do more things on my own. I want less help.
The reason why I’m revealing my feelings about walking is because I want people to understand what I’m going through. Sometimes when I go home, I listen to Josh Groban. And I go in my room and listen to him and I cry. I cry because I sometimes get very emotional about this and crying releases tension.
I like coming to Lifestyles because it brings me to a place where I have friends. It is not a babysitting service. Lifestyles is a structural program, which teaches us to go out into the workforce. It also gives us an opportunity to expand our minds.
And it gives us a chance to shine. Lifestyles hais a social basis where people come and be happy. And this is why I feel good when I come here. We learn to properly introduce ourselves. I enjoy interviewing people on camera and off. We take pictures and learn to be photographers. So when I come to Lifestyles, I feel like I have a purpose. I feel very special because Lifestyles got me a camera that I can put on my tray, so I can take pictures.
There is an invention called [Robotic] Exoskeleton that you put on like a jacket and you can walk. It has worked with some people, but for me, I don’t know. If you take a picture of my spine, it’s curved. So I don’t know how the Exoskeleton would work. I hope someday in the near future it would. The first thing I would do is go on a plane and take a trip to Italy to see my cousins. I did it once, but there were people to lift me. I want to actually walk by myself.
I enjoyed dictating this essay because it gave me a chance to tell you what I go through everyday in a wheelchair. I hope you read my story because I want everybody to know what I’m going through. Thank you everybody for listening and have a good day.
Joseph Padalino attends Lifestyles for the Disabled day habilitation program. This essay was dictated to Acewin Tam, an intern from Staten Island Technical High School, and Kathryn Carse with the Lifestyles M
The trails at Mount Loretto Unique Area are now open for all people. Staten Island Deputy BP Edward Burke and the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s Universal Access Coordinator, Carole Fraser chat with Life-Wire’s Joseph Padalino and Anthony Pabon about the park and and the newly accessible trails in the following video from the September 22 ribbon cutting ceremony. (Photo: Meredith Arout for Life-Wire News).
On a clear and warm first day of Autumn, Joseph Padalino cut the ribbon to new accessible
trails at Mount Loretto Unique Area. Flanked by the politicians and officials who made it all possible, Padalino let out a whoop of delight.
“I think it’s a very good park for people with disabilities like me,” observed Padalino, who uses a wheelchair. “It’s a very tranquil place to meditate. People feel at peace in that park.”
Padalino attended with a contingent of participants and staff from Lifestyles for the Disabled, one of a number of organizations represented, including Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and the Independent Living Center.
“When we build a trail to be accessible, it’s for everyone,” Carole Fraser, Universal Access Coordinator for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), told Padalino. “It isn’t only for people with disabilities, it’s for people with small children in strollers. It’s for older adults and everyone to come and enjoy these spaces together. Everyone can come and be more accepting of each other.”
Steve Zahn, Regional Director for the DEC, thanked State Assemblymen Ron Castorina, Jr. and Michael Cusick; Ed Burke, Staten Island Deputy Borough President; and NYC Parks officials for their efforts to improve the Pleasant Plains park.
The festivities took place on a long, wide gravel path flanked by mowed grass and goldenrod. The program was followed by a walk down the path to a deck on a bucolic pond where everyone can enjoy the ducks and, when there is more water, some fishing.
“Did you know that Staten Island has 12,000 acres of parks and natural areas,” Burke told reporter Anthony Pabon. “That’s a third of Staten Island. So we’ve done a great job of protecting parkland and natural areas like this.”
In addition to the trail at Mount Loretto, improvements in access at New York State parks in the area also include amenities at Butler Manor Woods, North Mt Loretto State Forest and Lemon Creek.
”We have everything here, deer, raccoon, woodchuck, skunk,” Ray Matarazzo of the Protectors of the Pine Oak Woods told reporter Rachel Chernock. “The big thrill of the day was the bald eagle. They’re always soaring overhead.”
Mount Loretto Unique Area is at 6450 Hylan Blvd. on Staten Island. Call 718.482.4942 for information.
- Rachel Chernock, Anthony DiCostanzo, Anthony DiFato, Kareem Ellison, Steven Filoramo, Anthony Kefalinos, Andrew Moszenberg, Anthony Pabon, Joseph Padalino, Dolores Palermo, and Gregory Perosi with Kathryn Carse and Edward Gregory.
Read “A facelift for state lands: More accessible trails, walkways, parking” at SILive.com.