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Celebrating getting healthy by nature this Parks Week at Wilsons Prom

Thursday 7 March, 2013

Parks Victoria is celebrating Parks Week 2 -8 March 2013: Get Healthy by Nature, which aims to showcase Australian parks. This week, Blindsports Victoria have attended a three day camp at the Prom, highlighting the health benefits and accessibility of Victoria’s parks.

Blindsports Victoria received a $15,000 grant under the Victorian Coalition Government’s Healthy Parks Healthy People Active in Parks Program for the Australia-first Walk in the Park Program, a volunteer guide activity, which aims to reduce the barriers to visitors to parks who are blind or vision impaired. This grant provides the opportunity for blind and visually impaired visitors to regularly participate in recreational activities in parks. This program also includes a camping experience at Wilsons Promontory National Park.

President of Blindsports Victoria Maurice Gleeson said: “For many people who are blind or vision impaired, visiting and staying in a national park would not have been possible until now. This camp is quite unique in that blind and vision impaired people have had significant input in the organising of the camp and the planned activities.”

Kay, one of the participants this week, said: 'We are all very excited about going to the Prom to hear the birds, enjoy the fresh air and experience the many different smells in the park. Visiting a national park can be very difficult on your own if you are blind or vision impaired. There are safety concerns such as being able to orientate where you are, difficulties reading signs, feeling vulnerable etc. As a result many people do not get the opportunity to visit parks or stay in them.

“Many people who are blind or vision impaired are socially isolated, particularly young people. They cannot simply see someone in the street and say ‘Hi’ like other people can. The camp at the Prom will be a great opportunity for participants to meet other people and do things with others.”

Parks Victoria’s General Manager Environment and Heritage Ian Walker said local park staff will be leading some interpretive activities and sensory walks in the park for the group.
“Over the past two years, Parks Victoria has delivered $260,000 of programs and equipment to make parks more accessible, including all-terrain wheelchairs, special accommodation equipment in selected parks and park programs for people with disabilities and carers on behalf of the Victoria Coalition Government.”

The camp is part of a program partnership between Parks Victoria and Blinds Sports Victoria, funded under the Victorian Coalition Government’s Healthy Parks Healthy People Active in Parks Program.

To find out how Victoria’s parks are more accessible than ever visit www.parks.vic.gov.au

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