March 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 38

Derek J. Dickinson

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

The author, an outdoor recreation educator
with Minnesota's Three Rivers Park District,
tries out an adaptive kayak at Cleary Lake,
just south of Minneapolis.

Minnesota's Three Rivers Park District Paves the
Way for Local Adapted Outdoor Recreation
By Tracy Tabaka

F

or outdoor recreation and health enthusiasts, Minnesota has a lot to offer. With the state's drastic seasonal changes, along with its abundance
of parks and trail systems, it seems that there is something for everyone
no matter what time of year.
Three Rivers Park District, established in 1957, is a park system in the
western suburbs of the Minneapolis/
St. Paul metro area. It encompasses
almost 27,000 acres and serves more
than 9.5 million visitors annually. Three
Rivers has always offered inclusive services and worked to provide reasonable
accommodations for individuals of all
ability levels to have the opportunity to
participate in its recreation and educational programs. Its adapted downhill
skiing program reaches 150 participants per year, while its golf programs
welcome 50 participants each year.

36

Parks & Recreation

In January 2010, the park district's
Outdoor Recreation School began hiring individuals to teach a wider variety
of programs in an effort to further outdoor activities for adaptive communities. With one or two Nordic sit-skis,
a few volunteers and some instruction
on working with individuals with disabilities, a handful of adapted Nordic
ski lessons were taught that winter,
and an idea was born. From that point
on, the Outdoor Recreation School of
Three Rivers Park District has worked
to create and offer adapted versions of
almost all its park programs. Through

| M A R C H 2 0 1 4 | W W W. N R PA . O R G

lessons, clubs, demonstration days,
community outreach opportunities,
and partnerships with organizations
such as Courage Kenny Rehabilitation
Institute, the Minnesota chapter of
Veterans Affairs and local bike shops,
the Park District is expanding its resources and knowledge of adapted
recreation with each passing year.
Outdoor Recreation School staff
members have worked diligently
through grants and other funding
mechanisms to purchase top-of-the-line
adapted equipment, which has in turn
made programs such as adapted Nordic skiing, kayaking, canoeing, archery,
geocaching, golf, river trips, fishing
(winter and summer) and hand cycle
mountain biking (winter and summer)
extremely popular with park guests.



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