A young wheelchair-bound woman tired of feeling isolated and embarrassed when she visits the cinema is appealing for action.
Narissa Siemonek, 26, says there is a lack of appropriate seating at Tauranga’s Bay City Cinemas and her request to staff for better treatment has fallen on “deaf ears”.
Narissa Siemonek at Bay City Cinemas in Tauranga. Photo: Bruce Barnard.
“I am a young woman in a wheelchair who would like to enjoy the simple pleasure of going to the movies and sitting with my friends or family.”
Narissa, who has been in a wheelchair for 10 years following a swimming pool accident, moved to Tauranga from Auckland three years ago, where she enjoyed wheelchair-friendly cinemas.
“Since being back in Tauranga I have visited Bay City Cinemas on a number of occasions however, the wheelchair seating in the majority of the cinemas means that I would be sitting by myself by the rubbish bin, which needless to say is embarrassing, a bit depressing and socially isolating.”
She has spoken to management numerous times and says no change has occurred.
“Staff suggested the people who accompany me sit on an office chair, which is ridiculous given that they have just paid full price for their tickets also.
“I would really like to see this change so that all people in wheelchairs can enjoy what everyone else takes for granted. This issue could be so easily rectified; you only need to look at other cinemas around New Zealand.”
Bay City Cinemas general manager Justin Chaney says staff do everything in their power to make going to the movies an enjoyable experience for everyone.
He says the Tauranga cinema underwent major changes six years ago to improve the facility, which included a lift in one of the cinema’s theatres, allowing people in wheelchairs to sit in the back row with friends.
The remaining theatres do not have seating next to the wheelchair space.
“We also have to adhere to the building code, which means a building inspector has signed off the facilities available, so therefore the comments made are Narissa’s opinion.
“We always reserve two or three seats next to the allocated wheelchair seating so people in wheelchairs can sit with their friends.”
He says the bin Narissa is referring to can be shifted.
“Bay City Cinemas staff are happy to work with Narissa to make her movie going experience a more enjoyable one,” says Justin.