RAMP UP Project Installs Ramps for Columbians for Free

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COLUMBIA - Services for Independent Living in Columbia organized the RAMP UP project and built 14 ramps on Saturday in Mid-Missouri. More than 100 volunteers from 15 organizations joined to help.

Lorna Brown is one of the residents who got a ramp from this project for free. She's wanted a ramp since she moved to Creasy Spring Road in May of this year.

Brown still works two days a week at the age of 74, but without a ramp, it's difficult for her to get in and out of her home.

"My knees are so bad, and they don't bend well," Brown said, "When I come home from work, it is very hard to get up to stairs. It takes me about 10 to 15 minutes to get up to steps."

With the ramp, Brown can now live more safely with independence, freedom and mobility. She said she is now even looking forward to going to work next week because she can walk down the ramp instead of the stairs.

Beside the RAMP UP project, Services for Independent Living has built about 35 ramps this year, and has about 15 on-going ramp projects.

Scout Merry, Assistive Technology Manager from SIL, is in charge of its ramp projects. He works with businesses and individuals who are interested in building ramps.

"For a lot of people with changing abilities, it becomes very difficult for them to get out of the home, they don't feel safe, they just can't do it, and they can't do it independently," Merry said. "So we are building ramps to increase their independence. So they can get out of their home safely and by themselves with this ramp. "

"Columbia has very limited accessible housing. It is difficult for people who are looking for housing to find accessible housing. So our ramp project is something can help people stay in their home even their needs change," he added.

The City of Columbia requires new public buildings to include designs that contain access for people with disabilities. There are some old buildings where all entrances have stairs. Residential homes are not required to have wheelchair accessibility.

The RAMP UP project costs about $11,000 in total materials. Each ramp cost about $300 to $2,000 in materials and the average cost is about $800. Much of the money comes from donations and sponsors, including Mid City Lumber Co., The Crossing Church, and SIL staff.

Services for Independent Living is the only agency that builds ramps in Columbia with no cost for residents. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given the agency $40,000 for the 2013 fiscal year.

Contact Services for Independent Living if you need more information or want to file a ramp request.