March 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 39

Murphy Hanrehan Park Reserve, also at Cleary Lake, features a singletrack mountain
biking loop designed for adaptive access.

Outdoor Recreation School to find out
which of its programs her son might
be able to participate in. " There are
so many places that have wonderful
programs that Ryan can't participate
in. And when there are programs that
he can participate in, they are usually
four hours away, so this is really cool, "
Elaine says. " This has been a long time
in coming, and we're so excited! "
Ryan began with an adapted kayak lesson that included his friend and
father. He was paired with an adapted instructor who also used a wheelchair for mobility as well as another
paddling instructor from the Outdoor Recreation School. Elaine says,
" When he went the first time and he
called me afterward...the enthusiasm
that he had was something that I don't
often hear from him. To be able to
participate in a sport and do it independently, and we're trying to catch
up with him, it's completely unheard
of. It's such a cool addition to his life. "
With several kayaking lessons under
his belt, Ryan also participated in many
of the park district's other adapted programs, including archery, mountain
biking and Nordic skiing. He has also

Derek J. Dickinson

During the 2013 season, the Park
District reached approximately 400
total participants through its adapted
programming efforts. An abundance
of positive feedback regarding Three
Rivers' focus on adapted program
opportunities, as well as its passion
to make structural universal design
changes within its park facilities to accommodate a wider variety of guests,
has fueled these changes. Some of
these structural modifications include
the construction of wider single-track
mountain bike trails to accommodate
adapted hand cycles, changes to park
buildings to ensure that ramps and
bathrooms exceed ADA expectations,
the addition of park equipment such as
beach and all-terrain wheelchairs, mobility mats for wheelchair access across
sand, mud and snow, and specified
walking trails for slower and multi-use
pedestrian traffic.
Year after year, Minnesota is continually ranked high among the nation's healthiest states due to the
number of parks and trail systems.
For people of all abilities, the opportunity to go outside and play is both
physically and mentally stimulating.
Weight-loss, endurance, strength, cardiovascular health and overall mental
focus and happiness are just a few of
the benefits of outdoor recreation.
For individuals who have disabilities,
having this opportunity to enjoy the
outdoors can be life-changing.
For Ryan Duffy, a 20-something
Twin Cities resident who uses a wheelchair for mobility, the availability of
the park district's adapted programs
has changed the way he and his family spend quality time together. After
seeing a Three Rivers summer program catalog with a cover photo of a
person who uses a wheelchair getting
in an adapted kayak, Ryan's mom,
Elaine, immediately called the park's

recruited friends who use wheelchairs
and with similar ability levels to participate in the park programs. When
asked for his advice to others regarding
participating in some of his new favorite activities, he says, " Do the other
adapted sports, like mountain biking,
archery...do it all if you can! I just want
people to know that I'm really grateful
for this program. "
Nestled in the midst of Minnesota's
most populated region, Three Rivers
Park District strives to provide a vast
array of educational and healthy recreational opportunities for people of
all ability levels. The state's natural
beauty and its emphasis on health
and wellness through the provision
of an abundance of multiuse trails,
parks and natural resource education
are assets from which everyone can
benefit. For more information on
Three Rivers Park District, the Outdoor Recreation School and its adaptive programs, go to www.threerivers
parks.org or call 763.694.7720.
Tracy Tabaka is an Outdoor Recreation
Educator with the Three Rivers Park District
in Minnesota (ttabaka@threeriverspark
district.org).

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

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March 2014 - Parks & Recreation

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