How to make the outdoors more attractive to someone in a wheelchair?
July 21, 2011 2:49 PM Subscribe
I love the outdoors but want to spend more time with someone in a wheelchair, any ideas for compromise?
posted by faheypb to sports, hobbies, & recreation (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My teenage niece is in a wheelchair most of the time (and has been since she was only a few years old). She can transfer and walk short distances with and arm or hand railing for assistance. She is fun and mature and perfectly normal - really awesome in fact, and I love spending time with her. We often go to the movies, do crafts, or play board games together. She loves books and plays multiple instruments.
However, some of my favorite things in the world are sports, the outdoors, adventure, traveling, and fitness. Understandably, she says she hates sports in general. She is a decent swimmer (in a rec pool) and has a cool 3-wheeled bicycle which she is quite good at riding, but I don't have a car big enough to transport it to a bike trail. She does have a fold-up wheelchair that I can fit in my trunk so going to any accessible place is totally doable.
I'm not her mom, so I'm not into forcing her to do anything outside of her comfort zone that will make her dislike me - but I do want to expand her horizons of what she thinks is possible. I am also reasonably selfish so I'd like to spend my spare time doing things I really enjoy. Besides, borrowing a kid-partner to do things you want to do and need someone to enjoy it with you is one of the perks of being a childless adult with a job and a gaggle of nieces and nephews that like the individual attention. I'd even be up for preparing myself by taking something like a first aid or lifeguarding course if I thought it would help us find something interesting and active to do together while still feeling safe.
We went to Disney World a few years back and that worked well because they are exceptionally attentive to accessibility. That's a bit young for her now and I crave something more adventurous. We live in a nice midwestern US city with good access to and airport, the Megabus, and a regional Amtrak line - but no major natural features like national parks nearby, fwiw.
Are there any websites or online resources for accessible traveling and active pursuits? Any experience with tour companies who specialize in outdoor adventures for those with mixed abilities? Can you help give me any ideas of things we can do together?