So if my thoughts about trade offs between accessibility and other goods such as environmental protection began in the context of the rugged beauty of Algonquin, I soon began to see them everywhere. They were being made real to me by spending time with aging parents, mine and those of friends, many of whom were facing a host of mobility challenges.
I love Rondeau Provincial Park but when I stayed there for a triathlon I was struck by the impact of their naturalization efforts. It’s beautiful and important but lots of the park is inaccessible to people with mobility difficulties. There are few level trails or wooden boardwalks. There are also deep sand dunes and Rondeau has largely left them as is.
What they do have though are giant wheelchairs you can borrow for trekking through the sand dunes. In my blog post Remembering Marion, my favorite fit feminist ninety something friend, I talked about spending time with her in that park.
I also loved that she didn’t let limitations get in the way of adventure. My daughter Mallory and I were doing a triathlon/duathlon once while Marion was in town. Read about our races here. Marion wanted to come visit and watch. But the event was in a fully naturalized provincial park. In the battle between letting things go wild and providing access for people with walkers, this park had gone for the former.
But no worries as they provided these amazing three wheeled wheelchairs with big tires suitable for off-roading and for the beach. I wasn’t sure how Marion would take to that. She’s pretty independent and called her cane “nuisance.” But she hopped in and had a blast as her son Rob pushed her up and down the dunes. She didn’t just demonstrate staying active into your 90s as a physical thing though it was that. She also demonstrated how much of it is about attitude, about feeling alive, and having fun.
Here’s a park blog post about accessibility.
What other efforts have you seen, successful or not, at making parks and other natural spaces accessible for all?