Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jim Ebert - A Life Well Lived Helping Others to the Top

Jim Ebert (left) with Juan Botero at the top of
Mt. Kilimanjaro.
At year's end I offer up the story of Jim Ebert - a professional mountaineer who not only lived to summit the world's most challenging peaks, but focused his work on helping others experience the thrill of extreme adventure. Jim died this year in July at 64 years old, while climbing Mt. Whitney in California in preparation for a trip that will bring people with disabilities to the highest point in the lower 48 states.

Jim was raised in a family of mountain climbers who were well connected with the world's leading mountaineers. He took hold of the family's passion early on and devoted his life to the epic sport. Along with numerous personal climbing accomplishments, Jim also made a stunning array of contributions to the climbing world. These include guiding the Iowa Mountaineers to become the world's largest university climbing club, offering the first outdoor toprope instructor certification course in the U.S., training the U.S. military in mountain climbing and winter wilderness skills, and leading countless first ascents in the U.S. and abroad. In thirty years of climbing expeditions and trainings he maintained a perfect safety record, personally guiding over 67,000 people to 17 alpine countries ascending over 1300 major peaks. Jim loved to share the joys of reaching pristine places with others, yet his life work was not complete without helping those with disabilities to access the same thrill of adventure he sought out for himself.

Monday, December 19, 2011

DCR Hosts Accessible Winter Activities

Here's the official release on our winter program season! You can find these and more opportunities from other organizations on on Winter 2012 Recreation Calendar - just click the tab above.

This month begins the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Accessible Winter Activities calendar. DCR’s Universal Access Program will sponsor a wide variety of adaptive cold-weather recreation opportunities at locations across the Commonwealth. Designed for people with disabilities and their families and friends, the programs are free. Pre-registration is required.

Activities offered through March include accessible cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, kick sledding, snowmobiling. Staff assistance and free use of accessible equipment, such as sit skis and kick sleds, will be available.

DCR’s Universal Access Program is one of the most innovative accessible state park programs in the nation. It enables people with disabilities to participate in a wide variety of activities, making recreation programs in Massachusetts more inclusive. DCR invites participants to come out and enjoy the various adaptive winter programs, and is also looking for volunteers to assist with them. Interested volunteers should call Heidi Marie-Peterson at 413-577-3840. Two trainings are scheduled: January 7 at Wendell State Forest and January 22 at the Weston Ski Track.

For additional information on DCR’s Universal Access Program, a schedule of activities, and to preregister, visit  and click on “universal access.”

DCR Universal Access Program
2012 Winter Schedule

Call the phone numbers listed to register for these exciting programs!

Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Kick-Sledding, and more!
D.A.R. State Forest, Goshen Thursdays: December 12 & 19, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Tuesdays: March 6 & 13, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 413-259-0009

Weston Ski Track, Weston Sundays: January 19, February 5, 12, & 26; March 4
Monday: February 20 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. 413-259-0009

Mt. Tom Reservation, Holyoke Saturdays: January 21, February 4 & 18
Wednesday, February 22 from 11a.m. – 3p.m. 413-527-8980

Wendell State Forest, Wendell Saturdays: January 14 & 28, February 11 & 25, and March
3 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (includes snowmobile rides) 413-527-8980

Accessible Skating Program Schedule

Asiaf Memorial Rink, Brockton Sundays: January 15 & 29, February 12 & 26
 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. 413-527-8980

Buffone Skating Rink, Worcester Thursdays: January 26 from 10 a.m.-noon; March 1 and 29,
 from 2 - 4 p.m. 413-577-3840

Cronin Rink, Revere Tuesdays: January 10, February 14, & March 20, from
 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 413-577-3840

Fitzpatrick Skating Rink, Holyoke Sundays: January 22, February 26, March 18 and April 1, from
12 noon to 2 p.m. 413-577-3840

Kelly Outdoor Rink, Jamaica Plain Wednesday: January 18 and February 1, from 1-3p.m.

Steriti Rink, Boston – North End Tuesdays: January 24 and February 7 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Thursday, February 9 from 7 – 9 p.m. Call 413-577-3840.
Tuesday, February 21 from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Call 413-577-3840.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ice Sleds Available for Public Skating & Winter Gear You Can Use at Weston Ski Track!

The skating season is upon us and many state rinks in Massachusetts have accessible ice skating sleds for people with disabilities to use on their own during public skating! Call in advance to ensure availability and find out anything else you need to know before you go!

Here is a list of places to go:

Auburn - Horgan Rink: 508-832-7201 (2 sleds)
Cambridge - Simoni Rink: 617-354-9523 (3 kids sleds)
Boston: Hyde Park - Bajko Rink: 617-364-9188 (2 kids sleds)
Boston: North End - Steriti Rink: 617-523-9327 ( 2 sleds)
Boston: West Roxbury - Roche Rink: 617-323-9512 (4 sleds)
Brockton - Asiaf Rink: 508-583-6804 (4 sleds)
Franklin - Pirelli/Vets Rink: 508-541-7024 (2 sleds)
Greenfield - Collins/Moylan Rink: 413-772-6891 (2 sleds)
Holyoke - Fitzpatrick Rink: 413-532-2929 (6 sleds)
Jamaica Plain - Kelly Rink {OUTDOORS!}: 617-727-7000 (1 sled)
Medford - Flynn Rink: 781-395-8492 (2 sleds)
Newburyport - Graf Rink: 978-462-8112 (1 sled)
North Adams - Vietnam Vets Rink: 413-664-8185 (3 sleds)
Plymouth - Armstrong Rink: 508-746-8825 (2 sleds)
Revere - Cronin Rink: 781-284-9491 (4 sleds)
Springfield - Smead Rink: 413-781-2599 (4 sleds)
Taunton - Alexio Rink: 508-824-4987 (2 sleds)

Each sled has a set of hockey sticks with which you can propel yourself and there is at least one stroller bar at each rink to allow for being pushed too. Some sleds have more support - a higher back and chest strap for those who need additional stabilization. If a rink has 2 sleds, one will feature extra support and a stroller bar handle. Kids usually fit fine into adult sleds (but alas the reverse it not true!). If you prefer to use another DCR rink that isn't listed, call 413-545-5758 to see if we can accommodate your need.

At the Weston Ski Track outside Boston, there are 2 cross country sitskis and 2 kicksleds available for use. Even if there is no snow, as long as its cold enough, snow is made for 2km of groomed trails! When there is snow, the trails expand! For those who have utilized the adaptive ski programs on site but don't have their own sitskis, you can go on your own any day of the week! If you are already experienced at sitskiing, contact the Ski Track at 781-891-6575 to find out how you can access the snow. The Ski Track is open until 9pm Monday - Thursday! Try night skiing!
Scandinavian kicksleds are a nice accommodation for anyone who can't walk far and would like to tour the trails with an assistant to push them. They are also great movable seating for seniors who would like to watch ski races at the Weston Ski Track!

For a list of adaptive winter program opportunities in Massachusetts, click on the Winter Calendar tab under the header above.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Accessible Gyms and Adaptive Fitness - A Ticket to Greater Adventure

While recovering from a serious illness fifteen years ago, I started to work out at my local gym. I've been working out ever since because it feels good and keeps me in reasonable shape. A friend helped me get started and now as my partner supports my regular routine. (A tip-o-the-laptop to you Meb!) Over time, I've come to realize that fitness habits of stretching, cardio, nautilus weight training, and that rewarding sauna afterwards not only contribute to my greater health, but support my outdoor activities, from yard work to long bike rides.

The benefits of good health and fitness can't be underestimated yet it seems that our society is increasingly losing its grip on how to maintain healthy habits. While there are many known factors for this sad trend, people with disabilities have significant risk for poorer health according to a recent report. You don't have to be a serious athlete to benefit from exercise. Those benefits can be as simple as feeling better, making more social connections, gaining strength, endurance, resilience, and self confidence.