‘Fix the sidewalks’: A woman’s battle for access in Williamsport

Gretchen Kennedy has never been afraid to speak her mind.  After years of working with people with disabilities, Kennedy retired. Eventually she needed surgery in both knees. It became difficult for her to walk, or stand for a long time. 

Now, Kennedy travels around Williamsport primarily on her scooter. From her apartment on West Fourth Street she can get downtown in 15 minutes. 

“I learned early on, you make do. You just learn to make do,” Kennedy said. “I’ve always noticed that they didn’t have enough access for people with wheelchairs.” 

On her scooter journeys, Kennedy is unafraid to stop in front of homes or businesses to tell them their sidewalks are too difficult to be ridden on. When the sidewalk get too bad, Kennedy will ride her scooter in the street. 

For years, Kennedy has been an advocate for ADA access to City Hall. Getting the ability for people with disabilities to have access to public meetings, “would make me feel like I mattered,” Kennedy said. 

Being involved in her local government is something she took for granted when she was younger, but now recognizes as important to being part of the community. 

While Kennedy often is one to “make do” with what she has, working to provide full access for people with disabilities is something she doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers over. 

“When I try to be nice they don’t pay any attention,” Kennedy said, remembering something her mother would often tell her: “Nice is OK, but nasty get’s better results.” 

At just over 80, Kennedy plans to stay involved in her community and advocate for disability access as long as she can.


  • Anne Reiner has been a journalist for over eight years. She lives in Lycoming County and founded On the PULSE to create a new and engaging way to bring local news to the region of Northcentral, Pennsylvania.

On the PULSE

On the PULSE is an online media outlet in Northcentral, Pennsylvania. We specialize in in-depth journalism, human interest content and video features. Our mission is to build engagement in community through local news.