On the the same day as my post about U.S. parks and recreation areas where you can use an off-road wheelchair, the Christopher & Diana Reeve Foundation announced the launch of its “Outdoors for Everyone Campaign.”
This initiative aims to ensure that the great outdoors is equally accessible and inclusive for all people – including those living with paralysis, their families, and caregivers.
The Reeve Foundation notes in the announcement that while the beauty of nature is a universal right, the great outdoors and accessibility are oftentimes in conflict.
As a result, the Foundation is working closely with parks and outdoor-based organizations, outdoor experts, and people living with paralysis to provide and inform resources, tools, and guiding factors surrounding real-life challenges wheelchair users face in nature, as well as ways to address these issues.
As part of this initiative, information specialists at the Reeve Foundation are educating those in the paralysis community about accessible parks, what to look for, and how to prepare for their journey into nature. The Foundation’s information specialists are dedicated to helping anyone, from newly paralyzed individuals and their family members to persons who have lived with paralysis and mobility impairments long-term.
Accessible Outdoor Checklist
Alongside the information specialists and outdoor-based organizations, the Reeve Foundation has also created an “Accessible Outdoor Checklist” for parks, recreation centers, and partners to ensure people living with paralysis and other disabilities are able to enjoy the outdoors, because public lands are for everyone regardless of ability.
The checklist serves as an educational resource with recommendations and suggestions on how to strengthen accessibility and inclusivity throughout the entire outdoor experience.
“Everyone of all abilities deserves to experience the great outdoors,” Mark Bogosian, Director of Engagement at the Reeve Foundation, says in the announcement. “The Reeve Foundation’s ‘Outdoors for Everyone’ initiative aims to address the preventable limitations for those impacted by paralysis. By working with parks and outdoor recreational organizations on ways to improve accessibility outdoors, we hope this will encourage those in the community and their caregivers to spend more time in nature.”
Recommendations from the checklist address:
Before Arrival: What kind of accessibility information should be available on a website and map; parking and arrival/drop-off area information
Arrivals and Departures: Details on accessible parking spaces; signage to ensure a safe passenger drop-off/pick-up for wheelchair users; trained staff assistance
On the Trail: Trailheads with detailed information; recommendations on trail design and maintenance
Glossary: Including key terminology from outside sources such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Accessibility Guidebook, U.S. Access Board’s Outdoor Developed Areas Guide, Yosemite’s National Park Accessibility Guide, and more to ensure a comprehensive perspective
The Reeve Foundation is partnering with the following parks and outdoor-based organizations to kick off this first year, with the goal to expand in the years to come.
Partners share resources and accessibility details with the Foundation’s information specialists. They also use and share the “Accessible Outdoor Checklist” in discussions and planning.
First Descents – Denver, Colorado
Glacier National Park Conservancy – Columbia Falls, Montana
Mesa Verde Foundation – Mesa Verde, Colorado
Partnerships for Parks – New York City, New York
Westchester Parks Foundation – Mt. Kisco, New York
For more information, visit ChristopherReeve.org or call its information specialists at 1-800-539-7309. Information specialists are available Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. ET – 8 p.m. ET. You can also leave a message if you’re calling after hours.
Source: The Reeve Foundation