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TrailRider atop
Knox Mountain,
Okanagan, B.C.

photo: courtesy:
Community Recreational
Initiatives Society
of Kelowna
Click here for larger picture
TrailRider crosses a mountain meadow

photo: courtesy:
Community Recreational
Initiatives Society
of Kelowna
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TrailRider Programs Expanding

By Garry Angus


The Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation (SSDF) is spearheading the campaign to introduce the 'TrailRider' - and the access it provides to people with disabilities - to all parts of Canada and the United States.

The Foundation has made significant inroads this year with its networking and its "Take a Hike" initiative, which introduces the TrailRider to communities looking to open up their parks and wilderness areas to people with significant disabilities.

The TrailRider, a one- wheeled environmentally friendly access vehicle pushed and pulled by two "sherpas" (friends, family members), can take people with disabilities through virtually any terrain - from gentle walking paths to rugged mountain trails.

SSDF and the affiliated B.C. Mobility Opportunities Society (BCMOS) "Wilderness Access Program" at Vancouver's Pacific Spirit Regional Park has become the model for this expansion in Canada. The BCMOS program involves day hikes, kid's adventure days, and independent TrailRider rentals.

"We want to make people aware of the opportunities with the TrailRider by setting up programs in communities across Canada," says Stephen Hunter, funds developer for SSDF and BCMOS. In past program expansion initiatives, SSDF and BCMOS have looked for organizations willing to undertake this for the disability community.

"We continue to look for those kind of organizations," says Hunter, "but, in addition, we are looking for active, well-connected disabled individuals who are interested in getting back into the wilderness and sharing this love of the wilderness with other disabled people to which they would loan the TrailRider and start a grassroots program in a community.

"For example, last year, Member of Parliament Steven Fletcher of Winnipeg was contacted for exploring the use of the TrailRider in his home province. The result was the funding of two TrailRiders for use by the disabled community in Manitoba."

The Foundation is in discussion with people in communities across Canada, including Truro, Fredericton and Halifax in the Maritimes; Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton; and Invermere and Ladysmith in B.C. Hunter adds that this initiative goes along with the efforts to expand existing programs such as the Community Recreational Initiatives Society (CRIS) program in Kelowna, which has acquired three new TrailRiders. These will be used to supplement the kayaking and cycling programs for people with disabilities already offered by CRIS.

Expansion into the United Sates is taking place in two areas, says Hunter.

"The U.S.-based Wilderness Inquiry organization (a worldwide operation) is considering using TrailRiders in its programs in the Olympic Peninsula (Washington State). "

"They are adding more hiking to their programs and felt that the TrailRider would be a useful access device to complement their programs," says Hunter. "We are also talking to people in New York to set up a program in the Adirondacks with an existing YMCA program and camp." 

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