Striving for accessibility
How can we be more inclusive?
Five Coastal Rivers staff attended Maine’s first accessibility workshop for land trusts in October, hosted by the Maine Land Trust Network and the Adaptive Outdoor Education Center. Speakers included Enock Glidden, a motivational speaker and outdoor accessibility advocate, Keenan Weischedel, an athlete and advocate with Disability Rights Maine, and Peter Doehring, a researcher and consultant on developing programs for people with autism or intellectual/developmental disabilities, who also serves on the Alliance’s Advisory Committee for Inclusive Health and Disability.
We heard from people who have experienced barriers to participating in programs or getting on the trails – whether personally or with a family member, and learned ways to make our own programs and trails more inclusive and easier to navigate. We also heard from other land trusts about the work they are doing to involve people from the adaptive community. We even got to take a wheelchair for a spin on an accessible trail to experience first-hand what it’s like (and it was more challenging than we thought!)
Our staff left the workshop feeling excited about and committed to becoming more accessible and inclusive – on our trails and in the information we provide about them, in our communications, in our outreach, and more. We are thrilled with the success of the accessible Rhoda and Leon Cohen River Trail that connects Round Top Farm with the Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site, and look forward to building on that success to create more opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to get outdoors.
We would love to hear from you if you are interested in being a part of this work, if you have connections with the adaptive community, or have yourself experienced barriers in accessibility! Please email us or call Hannah at 207-563-1393 x370 to let us know of your interest and/or experience.
For more information, the Land Trust Alliance has put together an excellent resource on the topic, Open to All: A Disability Inclusion Guide for Land Trusts.
Many thanks to Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Maine Land Trust Network, Disability Rights Maine, Go Beyond the Fence’s Enock Glidden, Peter Doehring (ASD Roadmaps), Keenan Weischedel, the Adaptive Outdoor Education Center, and to the Onion Foundation for making this workshop possible.
Photos courtesy of Donna Bissett/Maine Land Trust Network