Friday, August 27, 2010

Explore The Boston Harbor Islands September 13th

Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor
There are 34 islands in Boston harbor, and they are an oasis of natural beauty with rich history. Many are managed by DCR, as well as the National Park Service and several partnership organizations. The islands are well worth exploring and make interesting day trip excursions out of Boston. Some are quite rustic, others moderately developed. Of all the islands, Spectacle Island is the most developed and universally accessible, having undergone a complete transformation (including universal design) after serving as a repository for earth during the massive underground road construction project in Boston known as "the Big Dig". Georges Island has just reopened this year after a major renovation project that includes an accessible visitor center. I was there last year as the renovation was going on, but haven't been back to see it yet this year, so I'm not up to speed yet on the accessibility report.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Take a Walk at Walden Pond on August 26

The cabin replica at Walden Pond.
A long time ago, a man built a small cabin by the side of a pond and lived there for 2 years enjoying his connection to nature. His book about his experiment in simplifying his life became a classic in American literature and helped sparked the conservation movement. Today you too can visit Walden Pond, take a walk in the woods, enjoy the pond, and the words of Henry David Thoreau, even if you have a disability.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another Great Day of Paddling at D.A.R. State Forest

The Austine School rafts up for a photo.
"We love this program. What would we do without it? This is the only opportunity most of our kids have to get out on the water and ride a bike. Many of their families lack the resources or can't provide this experience."

So says Shari Annis of the Austine School for the Deaf of Brattleboro, Vermont. I met this boisterous group again today at D.A.R. State Forest in Goshen and love the way they take full advantage of all the Universal Access Program has to offer. I also saw them this week canoeing in Barton Cove and they'll be cycling in Hadley with All Out Adventures again on Friday. The kids are full of energy and their hoots and hollers could be heard across the lake.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Because Veterans Are the Best!"

Todd Munn (in red shirt, far right) greets wounded veterans
alongside the Connecticut River.
Thanks to Ralph Marche for the quote above - his reason for providing adaptive recreation for veterans at events around New England for no charge. I met Ralph yesterday at the first day of the Wounded Warrior Project in Hartford, CT - an event I attended to learn more about serving veterans and to experience another model for facilitating adaptive recreation events. WWP events are a powerful thank-you to those who have served our country.

Hosted by the Gaylord Hospital Sports Association and Disabled Sports USA, the organizers effortlessly solved one of the critical challenges of facilitating an event - perfect weather! Warm, dry and sunny weather is forecast for all three days, in which 26 veterans with permanent disabilities enjoy a free weekend of kayaking, cycling, rowing, fishing, and adventure programming. The event is being held at Riverside Park, a beautiful, accessible location and part of an extensive and impression rehabilitation of Hartford's riverside by Riverfront Recapture over the past 3 decades - a perfect setting for personal rehabilitation as well!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beach Wheelchairs - What is Your Experience?

Yesterday I took a trip to Lake Wyola in Shutesbury on a hot day as part of testing the Tiralo Beach Chair. Its a lounge chair on wheels, made in France, that does a nice job of not just getting people with physical limitations to the water's edge, but also into the water on a supportive frame that floats. Turns out to be a very stable and fun experience that anyone can appreciate!

The Tiralo has been around for awhile as a beach wheelchair product, but I'm not sure how much visibility or use it gets in the U.S. It is recommended for calm water, and vulnerable passengers should wear a personal flotation device. We purchased one a few years ago and finally took a test plunge with it. Very refreshing! To get one now is probably a special order for around $2500.