An association for disabled people in eastern France is calling for donations of the children’s toy bricks, Lego, to help make ramps for people who use wheelchairs.
The APF France Handicap in Ardennes, Grand Est, is helping to coordinate the project, dubbed “Rampego”. It comes after a German woman came up with the idea to help her husband, who uses a wheelchair, and the idea spread online.
The ramps are lightweight, portable, and can be used in everyday situations - such as “stepping up” onto a pavement, or entering a steep doorway threshold to a shop. And, because they are each built by hand, they can be customised and personalised to the user.
The ramps can be used in everyday situations (Photo: FranceInfo / Screenshot)
It takes 1,600 pieces of the small plastic bricks to make one ramp, and construction takes 20 hours.
One volunteer, Emmanuel Trussardi, working at the association’s office in the town of Charleville-Mézières, built a prototype ramp and is now set to make more. He told news service FranceInfo: “It is just Lego [bricks]. They are all assembled and stuck together. They have to be constructed in a certain way to avoid breakage.”
The Ardennes group is now calling for extra donations of Lego to help them create more ramps. There are two donation points: one at the APF France site in Charleville-Mézières, and another in Reims, in Marne.
The new ramps will initially go to wheelchair users, but the hope is that they might also be sold to others who could use them, such as parents of young children struggling up steps with heavy prams.
Shopkeepers who want to make their shops more accessible might also use them, and order a ramp in their brand or logo colours, with their shop name or slogan inscribed on it, and display the ramp not only as a helpful piece of equipment for their disabled customers, but also as a piece of art.
Emmanuelle Pascal, manager at APF France Handicap in Ardennes, said: “The first objective is for us to collect Lego, because we want to create these ramps from donated Lego.
“And then afterwards, to offer - personalised, of course - models for all the businesses that want it, if they have steps up to 18cm tall - which is rather a lot.”
This is not the first time in recent months that Lego has been used to help disabled people. In August, it was reported that the bricks had been used to support blind or visually-impaired people learning Braille.