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Access Nature Through Pinelands Adventures!

January 13, 2023

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Greetings to all in the Pinelands is for Everyone nation! I hope you all enjoyed the holiday and had a happy New Year!! In the first blog of the new year, I wanted to highlight developments that were made at the end of last year. It was a chilly, yet beautiful day for team building, insight, and learning for Pinelands Adventures and Kingsway Learning Center on November 8, 2022. Kingsway Learning Center is based in Moorestown, NJ, and provides an alternative educational environment designed specifically for students and adults with multiple disabilities. Pinelands Adventures, a program of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, is located in Shamong NJ and provides nature and cultural programs for the public including paddling trips on the Batsto and Mullica River. The purpose of the meeting was to brainstorm ideas and develop plans and opportunities to provide natural and cultural eco-tours in New Jersey’s Pinelands for those who struggle with disabilities. This is all part of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance’s initiative “Pinelands is for Everyone.”    

Andy Giles – Director of Pinelands Adventures practices operating a wheelchair lift and proper procedures for assisting disabled customers with guidance from Kingsway Program Manager, Scott Flovins. Photo by Sean Kane-Holland

This meeting included a tutorial led by Kingsway Program Manager, Scott Flovins and MaryAnn Richardson, Lead DSP (Direct Support Professional) for Kingsway. They provided an overview of how to operate ADA lift equipment for wheelchairs. They also covered procedures, techniques, and protocols for assisting those with special needs and disabilities who are participating in eco programs. I am excited that Pinelands Adventures will be teaming up with Kingsway to provide nature programs. Kingsway plans to transport their clients to eco-tour sites in the Pinelands, where Pinelands Adventures will provide the educational program and adaptive trail equipment.

Andy Giles – Director of Pinelands Adventures practices operating a wheelchair lift and proper procedures for assisting disabled customers with guidance from Kingsway Program Manager, Scott Flovins. Photo by Sean Kane-Holland

Taking notes, then learning firsthand and gaining insightful techniques were Andy Giles, Pinelands Adventures Director, Krissy Raudys, Pinelands Adventures Operation Manager, Monica Cahill, Pinelands Adventures Operations Lead, Allison Hartman, Pinelands Adventures Assistant Manager, and Pinelands Preservation Alliances new Access Nature Disability Advocate, Sean Kane Holland.

This first round of discussions included a portion intended to work out what kinds of adaptive equipment are available on the market, which models of equipment would be best for our purposes and environmental conditions, and where and how this equipment can be obtained. This equipment will be used for outdoor eco-tours with Pinelands Adventures. 

The team brainstorming led to gathering information for your basic manually powered beach wheelchairs, as well as various powered wheelchair designs, including designs with tank-like treads for navigating rough terrain. A major concern is the expense and maintenance of the machinery as this specialized equipment can be astronomical in cost – we’ll be seeking all avenues to raise funds to support this endeavor. Grants will no doubt play a large part in this.  

As Access Nature Disability Advocate, I’m very enthusiastic about moving forward in this endeavor. I think this is a great chance to brainstorm and then initiate plans so we can extend our arm and provide entertaining and educational eco-tours for our disabled community to participate in and enjoy the natural and cultural importance of the Pinelands region.

If you have information, Ideas, suggestions, or solutions or want to help with further developments for this project please reach out to me at sean@pinelandsalliance.org

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