One of the exciting developments in recent years is the new opportunities that people with developmental and other disabilities now have to participate in outdoor and wilderness recreation activities. Adaptations and innovations in recreational equipment now mean that there is virtually no activity that someone with a disability cannot engage in. In some instances modifications or adaptations of equipment are customized for individual’s specific needs. The most common activities include hiking, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, climbing and cycling. Increasingly, however, winter activities such as downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are opening up.
The positive effects in the life of a person with disabilities as a result of such activities can be astounding. This is particularly so considering how many individuals have been largely excluded from such outdoor recreational opportunities
Through Kindale’s collaboration with the Community Recreation Initiatives Society (CRIS) individuals with disabilities in the North Okanagan are now able to enjoy a range of activities. CRIS provides not only specialized equipment but skilled volunteers who provide assistance and support during outings. The program now allows 25-30 people to regularly participate in these activities during the summer months and Kindale is hoping to expand this partnership so many more can enjoy these activities.
Push To Open
This wonderful 20 minute video, produced by Alberta Parks, was filmed in Kananaskis Provincial Park. It documents the wonderful opportunities persons with disabilities now have to experience the outdoors. It features volunteers from the Community Recreation Initiates Society (CRIS) and shows how adaptive equipment can be used to enable those with even severe impairments to gain access to wilderness sites.
“CRIS programs gave me back my independence and reawakened my sense of adventure." (Jeff)
There has been no greater force for change and evolution in my life than my involvement with the CRIS program.” (Anonymous)
I had such a great day today, I’m bursting to tell you all about it: This morning for about an hour, I was on Okanagan Lake in the front (cockpit?) of a two-man kayak, for the first time in my life! (I had a two-bladed paddle, but it turned out to be more for decoration than effect. Note to self: Need to eat more spinach.) Out on the water, the cool breezes made it feel like 20 degrees, compared to 35 degrees onshore. Sunscreen & wide-brimmed hat are standard equipment, for you worrywarts out there (Greg, Dad). And two weeks ago, I was securely & firmly strapped into a “Trailrider” – a one-wheel rickshaw – manned (peopled?) in front & behind by two strong young folk. What a romp I had! Up & down steep trails, over rocks, bridges, you name it – the Trailrider climbed over it! I never thought I’d be able to hike & explore again. Now I can go just about anywhere anyone else can! Amazing! (Derek)
“My experience as a disabled person wanting to try kayaking was second to none from start to finish. From the ease of finding your web site with information, getting in the kayak, going through all the safety information and procedures in a very professional manner, to getting out of the kayak and wanting to go again.” (Anonymous)
“CRIS has opened up many opportunities for the disabled in the Okanagan Valley. Without their involvement, hiking or kayaking would not exist for the disabled. It has made a significant impact in my life and has opened up a whole new world for me to explore.” (Mike)
“My trip to Bowron Lakes was a turning point in my life!” (Sterling)
“What a trip! It was the time of our lives. Fresh air, good friends, lots and lots of laughs." (Ryan)
“I get a real sense of freedom when I’m out on the road or the lake and don’t need to use my white cane.” (Bill)
“As far as I can remember, growing up as a child, it was always very difficult for me to join in fun and games. Overtime just sitting back and watching the other kids play, I longed for my own freedom and independence. Entering my teen years, I still suffered a lot of social isolation and did not feel like I could belong anywhere due to my physical disability... Now an adult at age 29, I still want to experience as much freedom and independence as I can... Just when I thought all hope was lost, I was introduced to CRIS program.” (Wendy)