Better access to parks gives life-changing opportunities
Thursday 27 February, 2014
Improved access to Victoria’s parks for people with a disability is being celebrated during Parks Week from 3-9 March 2014.
Parks Victoria Chief Executive Bill Jackson said some innovative strategies were helping people with limited mobility to get out and enjoy Victoria’s parks and connect with nature.
“A growing body of research world-wide suggests that getting into parks and connecting with nature is good for people’s mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.”
“In the past two years, we have been making all -terrain wheelchairs available for visitors in many of our most popular parks across the state.
“It’s fantastic to see people who otherwise have limited mobility, getting out and enjoying time at the beach, experiencing the Great Ocean Walk or taking in the stunning views in the Grampians, Wilsons Promontory or Alpine national parks,” said Dr Jackson.
“There are now 12 wheelchairs in eight parks across the state with new partnerships with local councils to introduce all- terrain wheelchairs in a further four parks.
“These chairs are free for visitors to use and can be borrowed and taken to a range of park areas. Last year we had 67 adults and children with disabilities using all-terrain wheelchairs and that number is steadily increasing,” he said.
One of the many visitors who used the chairs last year said: “The chair gives me a better quality of life. My wellbeing in terms of getting out there has been profoundly affected.”
Other initiatives to increase access to all include:
- Developing modified overnight accommodation to increase access to cabins and wilderness retreats at Cape Conran Coastal Park and Wilsons Promontory National Park.
- Partnering with Blind Sports Victoria to run a “Walk in the Park” Program in which trained volunteers orientate and accompany blind and vision impaired people to appreciate the wonders of the natural environment.
- Partnering with the Council of the Ageing Victoria to run the ‘Re-Activate in Parks’ Program that enables older people to participate in facilitated park activities.
- Improved park access information on Parks Victoria’s website including photos and descriptions for more than 30 of Victoria’s most visited parks.
Parks Week is an annual celebration of the important role that parks play in contributing to the health of our communities. Parks Week is coordinated by Parks Forum, the peak body for parks agencies across Australia and New Zealand.
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