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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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Open Spaces: No Bounds to Outdoor Recreation


by Joanne Bauman

My experience with disability comes from both the consumer and professional perspectives. I have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and use a wheelchair for mobility. I received my degree in clinical psychology and spent several years counseling other individuals with disabilities in a rehabilitation hospital setting. My health management has always incorporated integrative approaches and this contributed to my becoming an herbalist. I also write for publications and NCPAD.

Being in nature is where I find my serenity, spirituality, and recreational outlet. I enjoy camping, canoeing, hiking, and bird watching. Despite the benefits of outdoor recreation and its importance to well being, natural settings are often not readily accessible to people with disabilities. NCHPAD works to increase the awareness of barriers to using national and regional parks, trails, campgrounds, boating and fishing piers, and other outdoor recreation programs and venues. By increasing awareness of park personnel, designers of outdoor use areas, and similar professionals, the needs of persons with disabilities can be communicated and accommodations implemented. Often, people tend to equate 'accessible' with paved or concrete areas. NCPAD's fact sheets, guidelines, and research provide professionals with resources and options in surfacing, design, and other accommodations.

Like people without disabilities, individuals with mobility limitations want to stroll through the heart of the forest, not on a sidewalk along the edge of the wood; they want to experience the beach, not view it from far off, or camp rather than stay in a motel. NCPAD's fact sheets, program database, and work in conjunction with the National Center on Accessibility provides me with options for places to camp, canoe, hike, and spend time in outdoor recreation. I was even able to connect with an adaptive sailing program in New England and experience the wonders of sailing on an ocean, not a lake.

By promoting a variety of exercise and fitness options, there truly is something for every body.


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