Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Get Out There and Play with REC Connect!

Test riding a bike at DCR's annual Accessible Recreation Fair.

DCR's Universal Access Program has a new grant project underway called REC Connect! If you are an adult or teen with a moderate to severe physical disability we hope you'll join our growing network of participants who are exploring recreation options in the greater Boston, Worcester, and Holyoke areas of Massachusetts.

With federal assistance from the U.S. Department of Education, DCR is working to promote and provide expanded recreation options for individuals with disabilities. REC Connect participants will develop recreation plans with a counselor, find out where and how to get out there, discover new abilities in the outdoors, and play! Join this fall and take advantage of our 3 year grant project to expand your horizons!

Hikers hit the trail at Mt. Tom State Reservation in Holyoke.

REC Connect makes use of existing DCR Universal Access programs, such as hiking, cycling, sailing, rowing, kayaking, power chair games, nature activities and winter recreation. The grant project also works with other community partners to strengthen adaptive recreation opportunities and awareness and help overcome barriers. Project elements in the works include the development of a Greater Boston Area Accessible Recreation Coalition. a peer mentor program, and an on-line recreation community via this blog and facebook.

Power Chairs On Ice, a program with a variety of games played in ice rinks by power chair users, is one new activity that will take place this fall and winter in all three urban areas. We are still in the process of determining what our second new activity will be! Let us know what you'd like to do!

Power Chairs on Ice at the Cronin Rink in Revere.
To find out more and get involved, visit us on facebook at "DCR REC Connect" and contact project coordinator Heidi Marie-Peterson at 413-577-3840 or

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Looking for something to do in the Pioneer Valley?


September 17 - October 3:
The Big E - THE EASTERN STATES EXPOSITION - The biggest fair around with something for everyone: mardi gras parade, concerts, auto shows, stunt shows, historical village, petting zoo, midway, horse show, agricultural displays, and more. Thursday, September 23 is Massachusetts Day and DCR's Universal Access Program will have some adaptive recreation equipment on display behind the Massachusetts building from 10am - 1pm. Sunday, October 3 is Special Olympics Day. Much if not all of the event is quite accessible and there are wheelchair and stroller rentals. Last year I went and saw lots of people with disabilities enjoying the fair!

RIDE THE MERRY-GO-ROUND on fall weekends at Holyoke Heritage State Park: Saturday and Sunday from 12noon-4pm. The Merry-Go-Round is wheelchair accessible - you can get on the platform to enjoy the ride! Some people may be able to transfer into carriages on the carousel and the 80 year old horses are spectacular! Holyoke Heritage State Park also features historical  and art exhibits, a green space in the middle of the city, with Children's Museum and Volleyball Museum close by, all at 221 Appleton Street. Call 413-534-1723 for more info on HHSP exhibits and other events taking place on site. For the merry-go-round, call 413-534-9838.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Inclusive, Universally Designed, Boundless Playgrounds - where is the closest one to you?

The triple slide allows a center person to be supported on both
sides by adjacent sliders or a few kids to slide all at once.
The center slide is designed for gentle stopping
en route to the ground if you need it, and the ground
is an easy impact rubbery surface.
Back to school time gets me to thinking about kids and playgrounds. I decided to satisfy my curiosity about Boundless Playgrounds with a side trip to E. Longmeadow this week to visit one. I found the place quite active with a dozen families and three times as many kids on a beautiful early autumn late afternoon.

There are about 200 Boundless Playgrounds in the U.S. and Canada, with 100 more in the works. Boundless Playgrounds is a Connecticut-based organization originally inspired by a girl in a wheelchair who was unable to play with other kids on the playground in 1997. Boundless Playgrounds assist communities in developing inclusive playgrounds using level site access, supportive surfaces, and thoughtfully designed play elements. They use play structures and safety surfaces designed by Game Time. A quick perusal of their website shows 45 Boundless Playgrounds in Connecticut, 11 in Massachusetts, 3 in Rhode Island, 1 in Vermont, and none listed yet in New Hampshire or Maine. Many are on school grounds, some are located a private facilites, and others are in public parks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Enjoy the Fall Season at Fun Events in Eastern Massachusetts!

Tree installation at last year's Outdoor Sculpture
Show at Maudslay State Park.
I just returned from vacation to discover an amazing array upcoming events in eastern Massachusetts at various state parks. Just had to share! There is something here for almost everyone. All events are generally accessible, meaning that most people should be able to access at least most of the experience. Please call if you have specific needs regarding accommodation so you know what to expect.

Thru October 2nd: - Newburyport, MA: 12th Annual Outdoor Sculpture Show in the Park, Maudslay State Park, Curzon Mill Road. Level fields and forest lanes offer a showcase for sculptural pieces that celebrate the park, nature, conservation or ecology. Entries by 30 local artists make for an interesting explore of the park. Catalogs available in the trail map box. Artists reception Saturday, September 18 from 2-5pm. For more information, contact Bert Snow at 978-462-0423 or visit

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall is a Great Time for Whale Watching

Recently observed whales on a Boston Harbor Cruise Whale Watch.
I've been on a handful of whale watches over the years, all in Massachusetts. The opportunity to be out on the water with whales and other sea life is quite extraordinary. The presence of whales is so magnificent I always find tears in my eyes and a renewed awe of the natural world. It is an opportunity that everyone should be able to have. Recently I've been inspired by Kenny Cieplik's whale watching ventures to write a post here, as well as make a date to get out on another whale watch.