One of our clients in the Aspiring Youth program, Charlie, has been advocating for better sidewalk access in front of Ryther’s campus this summer. There is currently no sidewalk or crosswalk outside of Ryther on NE 95th Street; a sidewalk would benefit many of our clients and staff, including those with sensory needs, anxiety, and other issues. In Charlie’s case, he is visually impaired and uses a white cane. He rides the bus to Ryther from Capitol Hill, but he is unable to walk without assistance from the bus stop to Ryther because there is not a continuous path. Many staff and clients, like Charlie, rely on public transportation to get to our north Seattle campus and the nearest bus stop requires those individuals to walk from Lake City Way, where the sidewalk is only paved halfway but not all the way up. Ryther provides essential mental health services, but this lack of sidewalk or crosswalk in front of Ryther is a barrier to our clients accessing them.
Charlie wrote a letter to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to advocate for better sidewalks between Ryther and Lake City Way, and his peers in Aspiring Youth are helping with advocacy support, including making an advocacy appeal video with him. It has also been an opportunity for Ryther staff, clients, and Board to collaborate with the community to accomplish this project. Charlie has worked alongside Ryther’s Accessibility Committee and Board Trustees to advocate to SDOT. They have also partnered with the Disability Rights of Washington, a nonprofit organization that protects the rights of people with disabilities statewide. We are hopeful that this effort will result in the creation of a sidewalk or crosswalk along NE 95th Street outside of Ryther’s campus.