Saturday, October 29, 2011

Adaptive Games Debut Before Snowstorm

I took a break from preparing for a shockingly early snowstorm today to observe our first Adaptive Games program at Mt. Tom State Reservation in Holyoke. Lead by Heidi Marie-Peterson and a small group of volunteers, about 40 students from Chicopee High School participated in three rounds of outdoor games. Students with and without intellectual disabilities were paired up as Best Buddies. The Adaptive Games program offered new Best Buddies an opportunity to get to know each other and recreate together outside of school. Cold temperatures, wet ground, and the threat of an early snowstorm did not stop anyone from having a good time on the playing field near the top of the mountain!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Big Beautiful Birds - An Accessible Michigan Outing

Just back from a family trip to Michigan and I am pleased to share a positive report on accessibility in my home state. My mom, brother and I took a trip 30 minutes west of Ann Arbor to the Waterloo Recreation Area in hopes of seeing Sandhill Cranes.

Sandhill Cranes are in migration right now, congregating in open fields and wetlands in south central Michigan to rest and fuel up on remnants of corn and grain left on the ground after harvesting, as well as a wide array of insects still kicking in these last days before deep frost. The land was once prairie, but now patches of forest dot the open country too. The 4 1/2 foot high cranes are easy to spot from your car (car birding being one of the most accessible forms of birding!) or as they come in to roost in known locations in the evening. Although I've seen a few Sandhill Cranes over the years, mostly on golf courses in Florida in the winter, I was excited by the possibility of finding them in a more natural environment so close to where I grew up.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Interpretive Sensory Trail Grand Opening in Easthampton

Sample audio tour stop offers a tactile
opportunity for everyone.
Congratulations to Massachusetts Audubon for their dedicated work in preparing inclusive trail experiences at ten of their statewide nature sanctuaries! In a grant project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Mass Audubon has been adding sensory interpretation along wheelchair accessible sections of trail that start from parking lots at visitor centers and offer a dynamic exposure to the natural environment. With input from trail lovers with disabilities and other specialists, the project has developed methods of providing a site-suitable audio component to assist with navigation in addition to offering interpretive information. I've had a tiny part in helping advise the project - and having been a member of Mass Audubon for over 20 years, I am really happy to see more of their natural places accessible to a wider variety of visitors.

The project spans a three year period over which sensory trails are opening across the state. Broadmoor Sanctuary in Natick and Stony Brook Sanctuary in Norfolk already have accessible interpretive sensory trails in place. Trails at Attleboro Springs and Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary have been recently completed. More will open next year, so this is a great time to get out and explore new trails, especially for those who have visual impairments!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Duet Wheelchair Tandem Allows Everyone A Biking Experience

Chauncey McCarthy assists DCR's Universal Access Program as a summer seasonal equipment specialist. He maintains our adaptive recreation equipment and supports participants at programs with his helpful presence, physical strength, mechanical ability and tool kit in tow. In this Guest Post, he offers info and tips on the use of a popular tandem bike that allows passive riders to have a front row experience of cycling.

The Duet is a wheelchair tandem bicycle that allows for someone to sit in the front as the person in the back pedals and steers. It is manufactured in Europe and distributed in the U.S. by Frank Mobility. Well-engineered, the retail price starts at $4,750 so it is not the most affordable bike, which is one reason DCR has made it available at cycling programs.

This front seat of this bike is a great fit for anybody, child or adult, who is non-mobile but wants to enjoy the outdoors. The front seat does haves a weight limit of 275 pounds. The front end of the bike is a wheelchair with a padded seat made in one size. I would recommend using padding around someone that is smaller then the seat to avoid the rider from sliding around and secure legs if desired. The wheelchair seat also offers a headrest, leg rest, chest harness and a safety belt. Wearing a rounded skate board style helmet or a bike helmet without a pointed back prevents the headrest from interfering with head and neck comfort.