The Secret Ticket company together with the Dostupno.UA public initiative have launched a surprise travel service for wheelchair users. Yulia Myroniuk, who has recently returned from a secret journey to Vinnytsia, was its first participant. “The global goal of this project is to inspire people to travel and tell others that we have people with disabilities and that they enjoy life, too,” said Tetiana Kosianchuk, co-founder of Secret Ticket, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
“We chose Vinnytsia as one of the most accessible cities in Ukraine. Then we will develop other routes and cities. The main criterion is the feasibility of getting there and settling in the city. If there are problems with getting around the city, then volunteers may help. The main thing is not to be afraid to go beyond the threshold,” said Dmytro Shchebetiuk, co-founder of “Dostupno.UA”, athlete, traveler. “This project is meant to motivate people with disabilities to live an active life, show that it is possible, and demonstrate to society that it is normal. Then society feels better about people with disabilities, treats them as equals, without pity and heroization.”
Yulia went to Vinnytsya with her brother and Secret Ticket – Dostupno.UA volunteer team.
According to the idea of a surprise travel, the girl learned about the destination just before the departure. They got to Vinnytsia by the Intercity train, equipped with a ramp, then settled in a hotel with a special room for people with disabilities. In addition to tickets, Yulia’s “secret” envelope contained a city map with tips where to go and what to see, given the availability of places for a wheelchair user. “Yulia’s impressions of the trip were very positive. For her, it was an absolutely new city, a new trip, new experiences, new people,” said Ms. Kosianchuk
The duration of accessible secret travels is two days and one night in one of the Ukrainian cities. They include tickets for two persons on a train equipped with special seats, a hotel room suited for people with disabilities, and a map of interesting and accessible locations in the city. If necessary, a couple of travelers will be accompanied by volunteers in each city. Travels are not completely free. Most part of the costs for the Secret Travel is compensated by the organizers; the amount to be paid by travelers comprises 200 to 500 hryvnias. “By this means we want to motivate people and show them that for one to get something, he must also work and give something to society,” emphasized Dmytro Shchebetyuk. The total cost of a weekend travel to another city is almost two thousand hryvnias. “We understand that it is not affordable for everyone. However, this is our social responsibility. So, we will seek sponsors who are ready to support our idea and at least partially compensate people for traveling costs,” added Ms. Kosianchuk.
The activists hope that this joint project will not only encourage people with disabilities to travel but also will urge city authorities and business to make the cities more accessible and comfortable for people with disabilities. So far, an independent journey around the city is always an adventure. One can book a special ticket in a carriage adapted for wheelchairs at a reduced cost only personally, in a special booking office at the railway station. In response to our inquiry, “Ukrzaliznytsya” answered that they are currently developing software that should be linked to the database of the Ministry of Social Policy so that people with disabilities can buy tickets online. But, unfortunately, it is not yet known when this software will be put into operation,” noted Tetiana Kosianchuk.