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
"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
"For example, last year, Member of Parliament
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
"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
news travels fast on one wheel as TrailRider heads for the foothills