Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Follow Luke and Learn to Sail on the Charles River in Boston!

I haven't made it to the Esplanade in Boston yet this summer to sail with Community Boating, but reports are trickling in from new sailors who have discovered the joys of adaptive sailing already. Luke Baca is one of the newest and happiest. The thrill of sailing seems to override any of the usual limitations that might hinder a young man with Spina Bifida who has paralyzed legs, difficulty with fine motor control, and an anxiety disorder. Normal anxiousness about leaving his chair or sustaining minor injuries like blisters or splinters seems to evaporate in the sailing environment. According to Luke, "I'm not really disabled on water, because no one can walk on water. In fact, I have such upper body strength, I'm at an advantage!"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Letterboxing Offers Fun Discovery Wherever You Are

If you like mysteries, graphics, and the great outdoors, an activity known as letterboxing may be a wonderful pursuit for you and your family. A treasure hunt of widespread proportions, letterboxing can be done by anyone anywhere in the U.S. and even beyond. In its simplest form, you follow clues to hidden boxes where you'll find hand-carved stamps which you can print in a logbook you carry. The clues are found on-line at, where you can scroll by state, county, and town for letterbox lisings. At, you'll find a far more sophisticated website listing many variations of this intriguing pastime and allowing for the quest of wheelchair accessible letterboxes.

Letterboxes contain stamps on family friendly topics (typically), ranging from cartoon characters, historical tidbits, nature lore, literary references, place-based commemoratives, personal tributes, favorite movies, and more. Clues can be straightforward directions using landmarks, compass readings, stories, riddles, puzzles, images - you name it. Stamps can be made from erasers or artist's carving material, carved by kids or adults, with a full array of styles, sizes, artistic ability. Anyone can make a letterbox, even with a store bought stamp.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How Do Kids with Disabilities Find Friends?

How do kids with disabilities find friends? I know it can be challenging for any child to find comfortable companions their own age, with similar interests and compatible personalities. I spoke with the mother of a young girl recently on the phone. She was interested in bringing her daughter with spina bifida to a recreation program this summer. She wanted to know if other kids would be coming, and mentioned that it has been difficult for her daughter to make connections with kids her age that also have a similar disability.  Her daughter uses a wheelchair and has good verbal communication skills, but apparently other kids in wheelchairs she's met haven't been able to communicate easily, so a potential friendship doesn't click.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"The Things I See, The People I Meet"

My week was complete as I got to introduce myself to Matt Eddy and his crew late Friday afternoon.

I caught up with them in Springfield, at the end of a 20 mile day, in a Walgreens parking lot. Matt was just rolling to a stop, and his roadside endspot was marked with their blue placard (visible on left). Each day's travel is filmed by Dani (left), beginning and ending with this mile marker, as part of tracking and verifying the trip for a Guiness World Record.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Crossing the Country for a Great Cause via Power Wheelchair

I'd like to introduce you to Matt Eddy and his buddy Ron. Two guys on a cross country trek. Matt driving his power wheelchair, using a ventilator, determined to get to California. Ron, his respiratory therapist and all around support person, determined to help Matt reach his goals of setting a Guinness World Record for the coast-to-coast journey by wheelchair. Together they are raising awareness and money for Matt's Place - their efforts to provide independent housing for people with severe disabilities capable of living on their own.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Not Just Any Day in the Park

I drove 2 hours to Boston in the rain and mist. I drove home in the a wild rainstorm. In between, for a miracle 7 hours, unforecasted sun shone on our Accessible Recreation Fair in Boston yesterday.

Over 275 people attended the event at Artesani Park, hosted by DCR's Universal Access Program. Individuals, families, and groups tried out cycling, hiking, and letterboxing, got their faces painted, and enjoyed refreshments and a stroll in the park. Many discovered new recreation opportunities to explore this summer.