When Julie Melanie was on her way to the supermarket one day in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver to purchase a few items she needed, she recognized a barrier – one that she wanted to remedy immediately.
“Because I use an electric scooter for mobility, I put my purse, bottle of water, glasses and phone in the basket that comes with the device,” Melanie explained. “But the basket was full and there was no room for my groceries.”
Melanie realized that if she had this challenge, then many others with mobility disabilities would also encounter this problem. One in five Canadians have a disability, and nearly all Canadians know someone personally who has or will be affected by disability. Removing barriers for all is critical in creating a fair and equitable society in which everyone can independently participate.
“I wanted to give everyone more freedom to do more.” Melanie explained. “When I got home, I fired up my sewing machine and created a bag that I could fit to my scooter.”
Melanie created bags for wheelchairs and walkers that would add storage space. She created the bags using recycled materials and has called her business Enviro Bag Evolution.
She said, “people with disabilities are often overlooked, which isn't fair, so I wanted to help.”
After completing a business course in 2021 to help her understand how to reach the most people, she started selling her bags. To start, she was selling her bags at the local farmers markets across Vancouver. Through this experience she began to realize how many more uses these bags could have.
Accessibility benefits everyone
“I was at a farmers market on the Westside and some people bought them to put on their stroller to hold baby supplies,” Melanie explained.
Melanie was excited that more people could find use in her bags and use for other devices such as strollers. Accessibility affects everyone -- children, adults, seniors, and people with temporary and permanent, among others. Helping create something that fills a gap that so many people can benefit from is something Melanie is very proud of.
Melanie has received positive feedback so far.
“When they tell me it’s handy and practical, that makes me so happy.” she said. “People with disabilities have needs and they have rights."
"We have the right to feel appreciated and thought about.”