|The Lasher Sport BT beach wheelchair|
will soon to be available for visitors
with paraplegia who come to Wilsons
David Stratton has asked me to write a few words about some of the other park programs that I manage in addition to the TrailRider program. In summary, as part of the Healthy Parks Healthy People branch at Parks Victoria, I work on projects that enable park visitors with disabilities to engage with nature and get active in our parks. The Healthy Parks Healthy People approach that Parks Victoria uses captures the fundamental links between our health and wellbeing and the health of ecosystems. This approach is also supported by strong research about the human need for connection to nature.
|A trained volunteer from the Walk in|
the Park Program assisting a blind
visitor in the Great Otway NP
One of the community partnership programs that I manage is called the Walk in the Park program. This is a bushwalking program provided in selected parks for blind and vision impaired visitors. The program recruits community volunteers and trains them as park companions to assist blind and vision impaired visitors to explore our many spectacular park trails. The park companions assist the program participants with park orientation, reading of interpretive signs, describe the natural surroundings and provide opportunities for participants to connect with nature using their other senses. The program also provides social opportunities for the program participants who in many cases experience social isolation due to their disability. The Walk in the Park program is a partnership between Blind Sports Victoria and Parks Victoria
|A family enjoying the beach at Wilsons|
Promontory NP using a Parks Victoria
Hippocampe beach wheelchair
|A young visitor using the Parks|
Victoria electric Stairclimber in
Fairy Cave, Buchan Caves Reserve
Another new experience for visitors is better access to Fairy Cave at Buchan Caves Reserve. Parks Victoria recently introduced an electric Stairclimber for visitor use. The provision of this equipment now makes it possible for children and light-weight adults with disabilities to explore sections of this spectacular cave for the first time.
As the environment is inextricably linked to our quality of life and our health the projects that I am involved with vary considerably but they all have the shared aim of improving park access and the park experience for visitors with disabilities. Nature, health and wellbeing are part of the same equation.
For further information on accessibility and inclusion in parks managed by Parks Victoria go to http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/