BC Parks recently held a workshop to discuss how to improve the volunteer experience for all who are involved in our provincial parks. One of the many successes at Paradise Meadows in Strathcona Provincial Park last year was an event that involved many volunteers & community groups: the Family Fun Day for Every Body.
Judy Norbury, one of the Strathcona Wilderness Institute directors, was involved in the planning of the event. Her recollections and photos below are from an article which will appear in the SWI annual newsletter.
The Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre, operated by the Strathcona Wilderness Institute, played host to a Family Fun Day For Every Body on August 21 this past summer. The event was jointly organized by Campbell River and Courtenay Accessible Awareness Committees, Accessible Wilderness Society and B.C. Parks to celebrate the centenary of B.C. Parks and to promote the two-kilometre wheelchair accessible Centennial Loop trail and boardwalk in Paradise Meadows. The trailhead begins at the wheelchair accessible Strathcona Wilderness Centre building.
It’s a common assumption that mobility challenged people must miss out on experiencing the wilderness opportunities of Strathcona Park. The completion of the Centennial Loop changes that assumption. While a couple of the grades on the trail are at a fairly steep incline and can be handled independently only by the athletic sorts in manual chairs, the entire trail is truly accessible and with some assistance or with a power chair or scooter, anyone can enjoy the spectacular wilderness.
Photographers of all abilities can enjoy the Meadows on the accessible boardwalk
The Family Fun Day For Every Body was assisted by grants from Mountain Equipment Co-op and B.C. Parks and sponsorship from several community businesses and associations. The day proved to be fine with a very good turnout bringing disabled people and their families and friends from all over the Island, the lower mainland and from as far away as Ontario. Naturalists conducted nature walks, there were snacks and prizes and many were introduced to Paradise Meadows for the first time.
On display for tryouts were two Trail-riders. A Trail-rider is a single-wheeled piece of equipment to enable a disabled person, with the assistance of two or more sherpas, access to any mountain trail. Also on display for tryout was an Free-wheel, an attachment that fits onto a manual wheelchair allowing it to move freely over rough ground. The Strathcona Wilderness Centre has a Free-wheel that can be used by visitors on request.
For a disabled person who might like to plan an
adventurous climb or hike with companions in Strathcona Park, the Trail-rider
can be borrowed from the City of Campbell River Community Centre for a refundable
deposit and nominal fee.