There are many great benefits to spending time outdoors. Unfortunately, visiting parks and traversing hiking trails is not only difficult but an impossibility for some people. That is why organizations like the Aimee Copeland Foundation have made it their goal to increase access to outdoor recreation for people with disabilities. Recently, they have collaborated with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to provide a fleet of all-terrain wheelchairs that are free to use at 11 state parks and historic sites in Georgia.
“Our mission is to provide outdoor opportunities for every Georgia citizen and visitor,” Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites Director Jeff Cown says. “I am proud to partner with the Aimee Copeland Foundation to offer access to visitors with mobility and physical disabilities.” The all-terrain wheelchairs or ATC (all-terrain chairs) have the capability to transport individuals across rocky, grassy, and uneven terrain. They will be free to rent with a reservation, but users will be required to travel with a designated “buddy” for safety purposes.
For many, this resource will be life-changing, as state and national parks rarely have wheelchair-accessible routes. Georgia-based blogger Cory Lee, who has traveled across the U.S. and to other countries with his wheelchair emphasizes the importance of this development. “I'll finally be able to go on these trails for the first time in my life,” he says. “The trails are off-limits in my regular wheelchair.”
Georgia is not the only state taking steps to provide more accessibility to people with disabilities. Colorado, Michigan, and South Dakota are some more states offering adaptive equipment for people to experience their natural resources. Here's to hoping even more take on this initiative.