Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. Here in Wisconsin, we are creating that very environment for the elderly, war veterans and the disabled. All are considered when it comes to bringing everyone in on that Wisconsin fun!
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a specific program for individuals living with disabilities called, “Open the Outdoors.” The initiative has made great strides in making sure that its state parks, facilities, beaches, forests and even fishing piers are accessible to everyone. Recently in Milwaukee, crews from the Milwaukee County Parks and Ability Center installed mats at the shoreline of Bradford Beach. It’s because of those mats that more than 25,000 additional Milwaukee residents and visitors with immobility disabilities can get the full beach experience. If you are more of the sportsman, Wisconsin has some prominent disability groups aiding in the hunting and fishing area. Check out Adaptive Sportsman, Fishing has no Boundaries or Challenge the Outdoors. All groups have mission statements outlining their passion to aid the disabled with their recreational wants and needs.
Have you had a chance to watch Discover Wisconsin’s Accessible Wisconsin episode? (If not, head to www.discoverwisconsin.com and find Accessible Wisconsin on the Destination page.) In the show, you’ll see how the recreational fun for the disabled doesn’t end with fishing and hunting. Sailanyway, located in Door County, offers a one-of-a-kind sailing experience. Installed on their dock is a lift which allows the Sailanyway crew to lift sailors out of their wheelchairs and place them into a specially designed sailboat. From there they can get on the water and take in the beauty we all know Door County has to offer. Also on that episode we feature a horseback riding facility called LifeStriders. Based out of Waukesha, not only do they assist with disabled individuals but also war veterans who have immobility issues. LifeStriders riding program incorporates elements of cognitive behavior, physical therapy, and occupational therapy in order to address the needs of each client. (And, who doesn’t love horses?!)
Wisconsin Dells can’t help but offer its fun to everyone. Assist Wisconsin is a group straight out of the Dells. Their goal is to take obstacles and make them opportunities for individuals with disabilities and their families. Now, you know, when they say opportunities…they must be talking about making sure anyone can get in on that waterslide fun! But Assist Wisconsin doesn’t stop at waterslides. Case in point: a 26-year-old man with spina bifida completed a strong man obstacle challenge with the help of the volunteers from Assist Wisconsin. Truly amazing! Volunteers with Assist Wisconsin took out the obstacles of stairs on tours, and also made nature trails accessible for wheelchairs. They have helped make dreams come true in the areas of bike marathons, bluff climbing, and even snow tubing.
Have more to share in regard to how Wisconsin is becoming more accessible to all? Share your ideas with our crew on social media using #discoverwisconsin.
A northwoods gal, Abbey Maillette hails from Sayner, Wisconsin, and currently lives in Eagle River. When she’s not chasing her kids around, you can catch Abbey on the ice pond with a hockey stick in hand or singing along to one of her favorite country jams at one of Wisconsin’s many music festivals. Twitter: @DiscoverWI