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Highlighting Inclusive Healthy Communities Grant Work

Making New Jersey natural resources more accessible for the disabled community

November 13, 2023


Hello Access Nature Network!

In this month’s blog, I emphasize new and exciting developments in the Pinelands Is for Everyone and the larger Access Nature Initiative for New Jersey. On October 26th a press conference was held between the Department of Human Services, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) to highlight the collaborative work that has been done to make nature accessible for all through the Inclusive Healthy Communities (IHC) grant funding, which PPA was a grantee for.

The grant funds New Jersey communities and organizations engaged in projects that promote the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities in the communities where they live. Such local, Atsion-based projects that were celebrated at the press conference were the donation of two beach wheelchairs, the addition of beach mats, continued trail maintenance of the ADA-accessible Red and Blue trails, and the still underway project for the ADA-Kayak launch/dock. With this grant work, PPA is also working with Pemberton Township and New Jersey Fish and Wildlife to enhance the Pemberton Lake Trail for accessibility standards for disabled visitors. It was a humbling experience to be with this gathering of like-minded individuals steering the way for more inclusive and accessible nature opportunities for the underrepresented disabled community. Our collaborators are dedicated to creating socially inclusive, environmentally sustainable, and healthy local communities for all.

Photo credit: John Gattuso

The event began with brief statements from the two lead collaborating state agencies, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, and guest speakers from the disabled community. After these remarks, the attendees then took a guided tour of the ADA-Accessible Red/Blue trails at Atsion Recreation Area. Among the crowd were individuals with their own assistive mobility devices, in addition to a few of the rugged terrain wheelchairs that Pinelands Adventures has that can be utilized by the public when they register for guided programs with Pinelands Adventures.

This was a momentous day for the citizens of New Jersey and the social justice work that is taking place; and all who attended, no matter their ability, were able to Access Nature!!

You can view the full article and video of the event here.

Sean Kane-Holland
Access Nature Disability Advocate

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