Access Nature and Pinelands Adventures
Bringing Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility to Outdoor Programming
By Sean Kane-HollandApril 12, 2023
Hello to all in the Access Nature world! Spring is in the air – which means it’s the beginning of the season for Pinelands Adventures’ eco/cultural programs. I have some exciting news. We are one step closer to offering equitable, inclusive, and accessible eco/cultural programming to more individuals in New Jersey. Over the past few months, the Access Nature initiative has worked closely with our sister organization – Pinelands Adventures. Pinelands Adventures is our outdoor educational and livery service based in Shamong, NJ. This effort is to provide adaptive and accessible eco/cultural programs to learn about the importance and uniqueness of the Pinelands region and its natural resources. We have recently acquired various styles of adaptive mobility devices. This equipment will be used specifically for Pinelands Adventures’ educational programs. These mobility devices will help Pinelands Adventures widen its outreach to the public by providing these educational programs to those with disabilities and mobility concerns. In the last weeks of March, I and Adventures staff took a few of these devices out to the Franklin Parker Preserve in Woodland Township to test their capabilities on the different terrains of the Pinelands region.
There are two pieces of equipment displayed in this blog. The first is the Grit Freedom Chair. I greatly enjoyed this piece as I am very active and have a greater range of mobility. This style of equipment is for the more adventurous and athletic crowd who seek to gain more independence and physical activity. It is propelled through a lever action system that gives the occupant momentum to move over rough terrain. On the Grit website they state, “Designed by MIT engineers, the GRIT Freedom Chair is a mix between a manual wheelchair and a mountain bike. Thousands of riders around the world use their GRIT Freedom Chairs to live more active lives— hiking on mountain trails, navigating sandy beaches, or just spending quality time with their family.”
The next piece of equipment shown in this blog is the Eagle HD. This piece of equipment will be best suited for those individuals with fewer mobility capabilities while still letting them enjoy outdoor adventures on fairly rugged terrain found in the Pinelands. On their website, they state “The Eagle HD is the lightest folding heavy-duty bariatric power wheelchair on the market weighing only 50 pounds with a 400 lb weight capacity. It has power, strength, and portability. The rear tires provide lots of traction with a smooth ride to allow you to travel over most terrain.”
We still have work to do figuring out which models work best for our programs and how to reach a wide variety of individuals with differing mobility capabilities and interests. The varying terrain that we encounter in the Pinelands must be considered too. We are running “beta” programs this April with our partnership with Kingsway Learning Center. These trial programs are set to help us brainstorm and work out obstacles that may arise before providing these programs to the larger public. When these beta versions are concluded and any kinks and obstacles are resolved, Pinelands Adventures will begin to open the programs to the general public. For this coming season, keep a look out on the Pinelands Adventures site for when these programs may be available.
For those interested in researching more about these products I have provided the websites below.
If you have questions or would like to get connected with the Access Nature initiative, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.