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.

It was a glorious summer day with welcome relief from this week's hot and humid weather. A gentle cooling breeze came off the water throughout the day. While our kayak program was taking place, a woman brought her 80+ year old mother to the boat launch where they unfolded lawn chairs and took in the view. That's what I love about the D.A.R. It is at least ten degrees cooler than most towns at lower elevations, even in nearby Williamsburg where these two live. They watched kayaks come and go, took short strolls, and admired a family of black ducks looking for handouts.

Bob Posner paddles independently with hand supports.
A longtime Universal Access Program participant, Bob Posner, came out to paddle today. Despite the difficulties of aging with a stroke-effected body, Bob continues to join our outings and keep himself moving and enjoying the outdoors. We shared ideas for hand adaptations for paddling after Bob came off the water and I was pleased to update him on my recent discovery of Creating Ability. I admire Bob's tenacious spirit and pluck - it is noticably harder for him to push his rollambulator the short distance back to his car than last year. I sure hope I'm as fiercely independent when I'm a few decades older, or at least that someone will drive me to the local state forest to sit and look at the view.

I finally got to see the "pallows" in use at this program, when Craig (who's last name I don't yet know) used one under his knees for comfort. Alyssa, our lifeguard also uses these supports, proving that extra cushioning helps everyone. Both staff and participants love using prototype seat cushions and pallows from Danmar Products, which recycles scrap foam from the manufacturing of other products into these nifty items.

There is only one kayaking program left at D.A.R. State Forest this summer, on August 18. To register, call All Out Adventures at 413-527-8980.

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