Monday, February 8, 2010

Accessible Winter Open House in Holyoke, MA

A fun time was had by all who ventured out on an overcast cold day to Mt. Tom State Reservation in Holyoke, MA on Saturday, February 6th. While a historic snowstorm buried Washington DC and the mid-Atlantic states, not a flake fell from the far edge of the storm's clouds in western Massachusetts. Despite the lack of snow on the ground, DCR's Universal Access Program hosted a successful open house for residents with disabilities in the Pioneer Valley to experience outdoor recreation activities.

Ice skating on Lake Bray and short hikes were facilitated by All Out Adventures of Easthampton with volunteer support from an outdoor recreation class from Hampshire College. DCR offered letterboxing, nature activities, an outdoor fire, and refreshments in the warming hut, including chili, hot cocoa, and cookies. Ellen Clegg of Found Sounds provided a unique chance for people with and without disabilities to try drumming around the fire outside. Over 60 people attended the event and WGGB came to film for the evening news on Channel 40.

My favorite moment of the day came while I walked past the drumming circle and witnessed a true "found sounds" event when a pine cone dropped out of a tree overhead and bounced off a drum, causing all the drummers to burst into laughter. This was the first time drumming was introduced into a Universal Access program. Cyndy Chamberland of Easthampton, pictured on the right above, commented that she enjoyed enjoyed drumming because she "didn't have to think" while doing it. Ellen's motto, "Everyone who breathes has rhythm", suggests that drumming is an activity everyone can engage in. Ellen (above in red) has been drumming for over 25 years and her students include people with disabilities. To find out more about Found Sounds, visit

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