“Within a couple of minutes of starting the hike, I started to notice a change in myself. I became more relaxed and more centered. There is something about walking in the woods surrounded by ferns and wildflowers under the shade of all the trees that I find very calming.” -David Whitenett, quadriplegic hikerDCR’s Universal Access Program has been offering adaptive outings around Massachusetts for 15 years, providing opportunities statewide for individuals with disabilities to hit the trail and discover their park system. The programs are facilitated by Brenda Davies of Stavros Outdoor Access, a program of the Center for Independent Living. Brenda’s warm personality and the use of a variety of equipment and techniques have given many people wonderful outdoor experiences they might not have had otherwise, from Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor to Pittsfield State Forest in the Berkshires.
We based our program on the hiking techniques developed by Northeast Passage of Durham, NH in which the use of a modified all-terrain wheelchair allows seated hikers to move off accessible trails onto more rugged terrain. While this can be an independent endeavor for athletic individuals, most often this is accomplished with teamwork, a process that works well for individuals, families and groups in a program structure.
“We didn’t think that everyone could participate but your mountain wheelchair and staff helped make it possible for a memorable hike for us.” -Neal Drew, teacher