March 7, 2016

Over the past few years, the parks in Pennsylvania have become increasingly accessible to all. Thanks to the diligent efforts of Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation, as well as Friends of Parks groups and other civic-minded organizations, many upgrades have been achieved.

If you consider your own neighborhood park, you may have noticed new playgrounds with interesting-looking equipment. These range from adaptive playground features, like swings for special needs children, to equipment with greater accessibility or even specifically-designed equipment to stimulate sensory responses. Much of the new playground equipment has evolved to meet ADA guidelines.

There are many options for adults, too. Trails have been adapted or created for greater accessibility, and adaptive sports like hand cycling and adaptive three-wheeled bikes. Many pools have lifts for easier entry and exit. Wheelchair-accessible campsites have also become commonplace at state and other campgrounds. Facilities improvements now offer ADA access to bathrooms, beaches, parking lots, and other features at the parks.

Just as the terrain is accessible at parks, so are the water features. ADA fishing piers, floating docks, gangways, and even kayak and boat launches, ensure that those with mobility issues can pursue their hobbies.

Adaptive kayaking and adaptive paddling are becoming popular sports for challenged athletes, disabled veterans, and other handicapped athletes. Specifically, adaptive paddlers enjoy the liberation of being out on the water and out of their chair. There are many health benefits and social and physiological benefits from being outdoors and in camaraderie with a like-minded group. Without an ADA or adaptive kayak boat launch, getting into the cockpit of a kayak or canoe is difficult and potentially dangerous. BoardSafe has seen the impact and joy that their adaptive boat launch has brought to many paddlers, and encourages the state of Pennsylvania to continue pursing adaptive enhancments to parks.

The state has come along way in offering accessibility to residents and visitors, but we need to continue to work hard. Many Pennsylvania lakes do not have ADA fishing piers, docks, or adaptive boat launches. Because of this, groups like the Friends of Nockamixon are working hard to add adaptive features to their park. Show your support for increasing access by donating to a specific project like Lake Nockamixon in Bucks County or PA Parks and Forest Foundation.

A Pennsylvania-based manufacturer, BoardSafe is located in Topton, where the manufacture made-in-the-U.S. high-quality aluminum floating docks, piers, gangways, and other applications for marinas, rowing centers, and parks. They also specialize in specific applications for adaptive paddlers and adaptive rowers, like their adaptive kayak launch. To see a case study about how a local group raised money to build and install an adaptive kayak launch in Pennsylvania, click here. To discuss your project with BoardSafe, call 610-899-0286.

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