Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Universal Access Program Winter Update

It's snowing like crazy! We already have two feet of it and are getting two more this week. Of course this is New England, but even this amount of snow is unusual for us in the river valleys, the southern section and along the coast. It has been fabulous for winter sports all around and our Universal Access program schedule hasn't suffered any cancellations so far. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we'll be able to clear the next two feet of snow and have a fantastic winter festival in Gardner this weekend!

This past Saturday at Mt. Tom State Reservation in Holyoke, I had the pleasure of tagging along with a small group of cross country skiiers testing their skills on the accessible trail at Lake Bray. Despite being a wheelchair accessible trail in summer, there are a couple of spots with grades higher than 10% for some distance and a few challenging turns on hills for skiers. The half mile loop was sufficient adventure for two mother-daughter pairs skiing with a leader, Brian Mernoff from All Out Adventures.

Yesterday at the D.A.R. State Forest in Goshen, Brenda Davies of Outdoor Access trained a handful of staff in preparation for upcoming programs and took a few people with disabilities out on the quarter mile accessible lake edge trail on snowshoes and a kicksled. Frank Grindrod of EarthWork Programs attended and shared his knowledge of the forest. A few of us delighted in mink tracks that crossed our trail and disappeared into a tiny mysterious tunnel. Frank has been assisting on Universal Access winter programs and hikes for a couple of years now and building his skills serving people with disabilities. Thanks Frank!

Only one pair of poles needed
on a sighted guide snowshoe assist
for a blind participant!
Though most of our participants have been ambulatory in the past week, they've also had a range of disabilities including severe arthritis, blindness, and cognitive impairments. I'm impressed with women over 70 and 80 years of age who are bundling up and taking on snowy trails. Kudos to everyone for getting out there to play and enjoy the winter wonderland!!! Thanks to the staff of All Out Adventures and Outdoor Access for providing fun, safe programs customized for each individual's needs.

1 comment:

toemail said...

Guess you guys got pounded this year. So far in Montreal we have had less snow and cold than usual.