Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Opportunities with Northeast Passage!

RECREATION OPPORTUNITIES abound with this exceptional adaptive recreation organization!!!! Water Ski on Tuesday evenings! Fee: $20/Session Two locations: Attitash Lake in Merrimac, MA on June 12, 19, July 10, 24, Aug 7, 14 Swains Lake in Barrington, NH on June 26, July 17, 31, Aug 21, 28
Waterski Weekend: Fee: $20/day -- Sign up for one or both days! August 11 & 12 in Mashpee, MA Essential Eligibility Requirement: Participants must be able to turn themselves from face down to face up in the water, while wearing a PFD (life jacket). Instruction on how to do this can be provided. Please contact NEP in advance if you are concerned or have questions.
Disabled Sports USA 'I Can Do Anything' Youth Scholarships Available! The Disabled Sports USA ‘I Can Do Anything!’ Youth Adaptive Sports Scholarship! This initiative provides funding for youth with disabilities (under 18), with limited financial means, to participate in adaptive sports programs. By filling out the application, your child can receive a scholarship for the event registration fees, transportation and lodging costs! This scholarship is good for ANY NEP program between now and September! Contact NEP at 603-862-0070 or to receive an application.
Cycling at Acadia National Park, Maine! Date: June 16, 2012 Time: All Day Ride Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, ME. Meet NEP there to rent your adaptive cycle and spend the weekend riding the 45 miles of historic carriage roads! NEP Cycle Rental Fee: $25/day. Summer Equipment Rentals! What do you do when you want to play but don’t have the toys? YOU RENT! NEP's equipment rental program makes it affordable to try before you buy, be a weekend warrior, gain skills, and be involved in more than one sport. Best of all, you get the choice and freedom you deserve. What are you waiting for?
Contact NEP to reigster for programs and reserve rental equipment. You can even rent waterskis! Call 603-862-0070 or email Pre-registration is required for all programs and payment is required at the time of booking to hold your spot. Space is limited, so register soon!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Eureka! Freedom Tent

Summer is rapidly upon us and those planning camping trips should know of the Eureka! Freedom tent! Several years ago at a National Recreaion and Parks Association conference in St. Louis, I met Diane Goodwin, the designer of the first camping tent designed with wheelchair users in mind. She was tweaking her final design of the new tent, which years later is still the main option on the market for people with mobility impairments.
Diane put some remarkable thought and innovative design into this product, which received the da Vinci award in 2006 for exceptional design that transcends mandated access requirements. The frame of the two-room rectangular dome tent is self-standing and can be set up by someone in a wheelchair from one side of the tent. The front door has an easy open flap system requiring little effort. The main entrance opens into a front vestibule that allows someone in a wheelchair to fully enter the tent before transferring into an adjacent sleeping area. This extra front room can also serve as a dressing room, dog sleeping area, or additional storage. The sleeping space has rear entry window-doors. Large door and window pulls on the interior make life much easier for campers with arthritis or limited hand mobility.
Blue Sky Designs, Diane's Minneapolis-based design business, teamed up with Eureka!, a well-known tent company, to make this excellent tent available to the public. Technically a two person tent, you can likely sleep at least one child in the front vestibule with a parked wheelchair. The Eureka! Freedom tent retails for $454, but can be found at lower prices online. It's well worth the investment if you are a serious camping couple or small family. The tent is such a great example of universal design that it comes highly recommended for anyone. New Englanders can check it out in person next month at the Adaptive Recreation Fair in Boston on June 9 at the Spaulding Adaptive Sports Center and CapeAble Adventures booth!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Adaptive Recreation Fair in Boston June 9

Now is the time and THIS IS THE EVENT to discover adaptive recreation opportunities in the Boston area and beyond! Come to Artesani Park along the Charles River on Saturday, June 9 from 10am - 3pm and enjoy a day in the park! Test ride all kinds of adaptive bicycles for adults and kids. Stroll the green, meet adaptive recreation providers and see their equipment on display! Take a short hike in a mountain wheelchair or with a sighted guide! There are myriad possibilities for summer fun to be found here, so don't miss out! This is your chance to do one-stop shopping, meet friendly people and make new connections!
Participating organizations include: Ability Plus All Out Adventures AmTrykeBike-on CAPEAble Adventures Community Boating DCR Universal Access Program New England Disabled Sports Northeast Passage Partners for Youth with Disabilities South Boston Boys and Girls Club Spaulding Adaptive Sports Center Stavros Outdoor Access Waypoint Adventures
Equipment on display will include the Hippocampe, Trail Rider, a wheelchair accessible camping tent, a beach wheelchair, and a sailboat. Facepainting, bubbles, kite decorating and flying (if there is wind!), gentle hikes, letterboxing, and a park quest offer additional enjoyment for all ages. Light refreshments and water will be available. Bring your own lunch and picnic on site! Bring your bathing suit if you want to cool off in the spray pool! Artesani Park is located at 1234 Soldiers Field Road in Brighton. Please call 617-626-1294 to pre-register! ASL interpreters will be on site. This is "not just any day in the park"!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Summer Camps: When Severe Disability Is NOT An Issue

Guest Post by Sarah Hart via Phil Dzialo, who writes a bodacious blog called Healing, Empowering and Thriving as a parent of a young man who is disabled. Thanks Phil, for allowing this guest post to be reprinted on Everyone Outdoors! And thanks to Sarah for her terrific work on behalf of kids with severe disabilities at a summer camp in Wisconsin. She reveals what is truly possible! This is a long blog post (and I'm having technical difficulties with Blogger - note there are no paragraph splits!) so start here and continue on at Healing, Empowering and Thriving for the entire amazing story with all the essential tips on how to best find a summer camp that will meet your needs.
Going to camp is a treasured childhood memory for many of us. Nights spent around campfires roasting marshmallows and days filled with activities, anything from weaving lanyards to horseback riding to swimming, glow like fireflies in the back of our minds. Far from behind a relic of the past, summer camps today offer a wide variety of programs, ranging from the traditional (archery, tent-pitching, canoeing, fishing, hiking) to more specialized (computers, photography, ballet). Camp is such a specialized series of events, and such an event in itself, that it may seem that it is specifically designed for campers without special needs. As such, parents of children with disabilities, whether mild or severe, often feel like there is no place for their child in a camp setting.
As a seven-year veteran of camps for kids with special needs, everything ranging from autism and Asperger’s syndrome to Down syndrome to brain injuries to cerebral palsy to rare genetic disorders, spinal cord injuries, involved medical conditions, and muscular dystrophy to hearing impairment and visual impairment, I am here to tell you that not only is it possible for your loved one to attend camp, it is possible for them to thrive in a camp setting. Nike used to use a slogan that I particularly liked: “Impossible is nothing.” While they no longer use it to sell shoes and athletic gear, I still use it when I talk about camps for kids with disabilities. And it’s completely true. Phil wrote a post on his blog earlier talking about how kids like his son Adam, who were basically “nursing home material… save the commitment of (the) parents” and how they’re not the kind of kids who go to camp. Except that every kind of kid is the kind who can go to camp.
At the moment I work at a camp for kids and adults with disabilities in Wisconsin. The particular program I work with is the respite camp, where we accept children, teens, and adults with medical conditions, disabilities, or behavioral problems that make them ineligible to attend most other camps or respite programs. Our program is one-to-one, one camper to one counselor, and our campers range in age from 3 up, with no real upper limit – I’ve worked with campers in their eighties! Our campers have a wide variety of conditions, including autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, brain injury, PTSD, Down syndrome, among others. We see campers with severe physical and mental involvement as well as campers with severe behavioral involvement. Our campers vary in the degree of assistance they need - some need little to no assistance with personal care and participation in activities, and others need total assistance for all camp participation and personal care. We have campers with feeding tubes, catheters, Port-a-Caths, tracheostomies and other various "ostomies", brittle diabetes, intractable epilepsy, self-injurious behaviors, DNR orders, and more. We have two nurses on staff during the summer and usually one CNA to accompany them in the summer; during the "off" season when we are only running weekend programs, we have one full-time nurse and usually a second nurse for check-ins on Friday night.
Our camp offers a wide variety of “traditional” camp activities; swimming, cooking over the fire, painting, soccer, volleyball, paper crafts, and community trips, just to name a few. All of our activities can be adapted to any range of function. We have a dance every week, and everyone goes on an overnight camping trip, sleeping under the stars at one of our lovely campsites, set back into our 400-acre forest; natural beauty is everywhere. In addition to the traditional camp activities, we offer a high-ropes course, a travine swing, and a climbing wall with a zipline. The ropes course is set up so that everything except for the high-ropes elements is accessible to campers with physical disabilities. Our goal is to provide a special, fulfilling experience for our campers. If a camper is happiest when observing activities, or walking around camp, we make it happen. If a camper loves all the activities, we encourage them to participate to the highest degree. If a camper is unable to sit in a wheelchair for an extended period of time, we improvise. Some campers hang out on blankets or beanbags; others may bring their own positioning chairs. No matter how they are positioned, our campers are always in the middle of the action. Our one-on-one setup guarantees it. It is my belief that camps for kids with disabilities are an extremely valuable resource. Camps provide breaks for parents and caregivers, while at the same time providing new experiences for campers. Campers have the opportunity to make friends, try new things, and have adventures. Camps provide the kind of experiences you want to remember.
Here is just a short list of the potential experiences available at camps for kids or adults with disabilities: cook outdoors; write songs or poetry; identify birds by their calls; canoeing; tour a local monument or museum; archery; put on plays; camp out in tents; swimming; sculpting clay or stone; play Earth Ball, soccer, hockey, tennis, baseball, or volleyball; build models; tie-dye, tandem bike trips; games like tag or relay races; attend concerts or other live performances; play instruments; pontoon-boating or paddle-boating; group sing-a-longs; murder mystery evenings; purchasing items from the camp store; campfires; and spending time on high or low ropes courses. And that may just be the beginning. Remember when I said that I loved the slogan “impossible is nothing”? Well, it’s true. Throughout the seven years I’ve been working at camps for kids with disabilities, I have been witness to many things that I’m sure most people would find impossible. Here are two examples.
CONTINUE THIS ARTICLE AT HEALING, EMPOWERING and THRIVING! (If it is no longer on the front page, search the title of this post in the search box there.) Lots of great advice on how to shop for the right summer camp experience - DON'T MISS OUT!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Games and Kites!

Outdoor games and kite flying go well together for an adaptive activities program in an urban park setting. Kites have universal appeal, adding a colorful festive element that motivates people to look up and enjoy the sky. A variety of games can offer people options based on interest and ability. Today for our REC Connect program in Worcester all that was needed was a parachute and a selection of soft balls and rubber chickens to offer a fun experience for a small group of people that came out to play. Shouts and laughter from our small group playing parachute games caught the attention of several people walking laps around the track in Lake Park.
With the lightest intermittent wind we were able to get a few kites to lift up off of a big playing field. A little bit of running gave a couple of kiteflyers some exercise and a more sustained flying experience. Small diamond kites are lightweight and allow for easy launching with a light steady breeze, even from a seated position. With increased wind, more types of kites can be flown, with team support if needed. Without wind, more types of games can be played. With both kites and games in motion, more people can be served. Our next adaptive games program will be at Holyoke Heritage State Park in downtown Holyoke on Saturday, May 19 from 1-3pm. For further information and to pre-register, contact Heidi Marie-Peterson at 413-577-3840 or We hope to see you there, and if not, the most important thing is to just get out there (even on a gray day!) and enjoy yourself!