Friday, October 26, 2012

Accessible Trails in Massachusetts

Coastal trail at Belle Isle Marsh
Autumn is the most spectacular time to take to the trail and appreciate the glory of being outdoors. There are many great trails experiences in Massachusetts that accommodate wheelchair users and others with mobility impairments. From Cape Cod to the Berkshires, these trails can be enjoyed by everyone.

Trails designed for accessibility feature wider pathways (three to five feet wide), stable and slip resistant surfaces, low grades, minimal cross slopes, ramped bridges and easy-access viewing areas. Some accessible trails also feature seating at intervals, Braille signage, audio tours, and sensory elements to create a broader base of inclusion. It is common for designated accessible trails to be a quarter to a half mile in length, sometimes longer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Forest Bathing - Prescription for Well-Being

Have you ever taken a bath in the forest?

Chances are, if you like the outdoors, you already have - even if you never got wet at all!

In the midst of leaf peeping season in New England, I chanced upon an article about the practice of forest bathing in Japan. I am often in the woods and it certainly makes me feel better, a sentiment with which all nature lovers would surely agree. Turns out scientific studies in recent years demonstrate that spending time in the forest reduces stress by lowering heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels.

Actively enjoying the visual beauty of the forest, connecting physically with trees, plants and the earth; listening to the sounds of wind, water and birds - all this opens us to bathing in the energy of a place. A healthy forest, as an intact natural system, offers a bounty of good energy, which can elevate our own energies.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Places to Go in Massachusetts State Parks - Thanks to Kathy Lowry

Accessible footbridge at Quabbin Reservation.
Kathy Lowry worked for the DCR Universal Access Program until she retired last month. She has been a quiet behind-the-scenes presence, a landscape architect who worked for many years diligently at making accessibility improvements to  Massachusetts State Parks. Without people like Kathy, the natural world would not be so accessible. Thanks Kathy for all you have done!!

Kathy's departure has put me more in touch with a gap between the tasks Kathy tackled on a daily basis and the long term enjoyment of the results by the public. In an effort to bridge that gap, here is a list of places you can go for accessible outdoor experiences that had the expert input and guidance of the same dedicated individual.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Adaptive Rowing Going Strong!

Blind rower Barbara Black has found her way into a single.
Summer is over and so are our paddling and sailing programs, but adaptive rowing is still going strong!

The boathouse at Jones Ferry in Holyoke will continue to see a lot of action as rowers keep up their practice and training. Fall is the busy time for races. Several rowers traveled to the Bayada Regatta in Philadelphia in August and had a great time as usual. Holyoke Rows had their annual Paper City Regatta on the Connecticut River 2 weeks ago, in which everyone won a medal. Next races up are the Head of the Charles in Boston on October 20 and the Head of the Fish in Saratoga at the end of this month.