Getting outdoors in nature is good for our health and well-being. Studies have shown that if people feel safe, time in nature can lower blood pressure, stress hormones, and improve mood among many other benefits.
Despite being the most crowded state in the nation, New Jersey has a large amount of open space, including the 1.1-million-acre Pinelands National Reserve. The forests, streams and ponds found here are an important resource for residents in the region.
Unfortunately, access to the vast natural areas found in the New Jersey Pinelands can be difficult if not impossible for people with physical or other disabilities. Visiting natural places can be uncomfortable, unsafe or impossible. Barriers may include a limited number of accessible sites or a lack of comprehensive and reliable information of the accessible sites that do exist.
PPA wants to help overcome these barriers so everyone can enjoy the benefits of time in nature and visit the parks, forests and preserves which our state and communities have protected.
PPA is teaming with two extraordinary partner organizations, Disability Rights New Jersey and Hopeworks. Together, we will work with the disability community to make the Pinelands more accessible to everyone.
We will engage with individuals, government agencies and other nonprofits to listen and learn from people with disabilities about the obstacles they find in enjoying the Pinelands’ natural places. The first town hall and listening session was held on April 6, 2021 and the second was held on September 14, 2021. Learn more.
We will create a unified hub of online, mobile-friendly information about existing facilities and opportunities. We will identify the improvements and new facilities that are needed and propose specific new projects in underserved communities.
We will establish an ongoing forum for sharing insights, ideas and information about nature accessibility. This will keep accessibility on the agenda for public and private land managers who care for our natural public spaces.
Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) is the leading environmental constituency-building and advocacy organization for the protection and enjoyment of the New Jersey Pinelands, an ecologically unique region of 1.1 million acres in Southern New Jersey.
Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) protects, advocates for and advances the rights of persons with disabilities in pursuit of a society in which persons with disabilities exercise self-determination and choice and are treated with dignity and respect.
Hopeworks is a social enterprise that uses technology, healing, and entrepreneurship to transform lives. Its unique trauma-informed approach, combined with high-demand, high-wage technical training and paid work experience helps build young people who can not only get jobs but keep them.
Virtual Town Hall & Listening Sessions were held on April 6, 2021 and September 14, 2021. The September 14th Town Hall features a video highlighting the real experiences faced by people with limited mobility and their caregivers when visiting a nat
You can watch the replay of both Town Halls here.
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