United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee (UCP) and Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) celebrated construction of the 2500th Wheelchair Ramp build in their state-wide collaborative Wheelchair Ramp Program on March 31, 2017.
The ramp was constructed at 1316 North 6th Street, Nashville TN, on to the home of Michael Williams, a 51-year-old man who has spina bifida, a lifelong disability that resulted in paraplegia, and the need for full-time use of a wheelchair.
The Program builds wheelchair ramps and makes other accessibility modifications to the homes of qualifying Tennesseans with disabilities who could not otherwise afford to pay for these necessary changes. UCP coordinates construction activities and recruits groups from across the state to participate in the program. Volunteers provide labor to make the modification, and materials are paid through the grant from THDA. Williams’ ramp will be built by student volunteers from Belmont University’s Department of Physical Therapy.
According to UCP Executive Director Deana Claiborne, “The program serves people of all ages with all types of disabilities.” So far, the program has added ramps to homes in 89 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. “If they were all placed end to end, that would be nearly 20 miles of wheelchair ramps.”
The ramps program was included when the Tennessee Housing Trust Fund was established by THDA in 2006 as a successor to the HOUSE program. Between the two grant programs, $2.4 million has been invested to build ramps and make other modifications such as widening doorways, lowering countertops, adding grab bars and showers accessible by wheelchairs.
Celebration activities at the Williams’ home on March 31 included a ribbon-cutting on the 2500th ramp, and recognition of the volunteers, partners, collaborating organizations, and donors who have made the program a success.