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Harrisburg, Pa –Approximately 40 million people visit Pennsylvania state parks each year.Potentially eight million of those visitors have disabilities.
“It is our responsibility as stewards of these resources to help others discover the joy of the outdoors,” said Emily Borcz, Regional Outdoor Recreation Coordinator.
Borcz attended a course by Accessibility Consulting, LLC called “Including Veterans and All Individuals with Disabilities in Pennsylvania Parks and Forests,” sponsored by the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation. She and other state parks and forest staff considered the training the first step in expanding recreational opportunities on Pennsylvania’s public lands.
Borcz later attended an adaptive paddling workshop that prepares kayak instructors to integrate people with disabilities into programming. The training taught carry and transfer techniques and other adaptations specifically geared toward kayaking.
“Water is a great equalizer,” said Borcz. “A body that may be uncooperative on land can become part of a canoe or kayak that moves smoothly through the water.”
The Foundation received a grant from the Dominion Foundation to purchase three adaptive kayaks and paddling adaptors for programming in state parks in western Pennsylvania.
“I am grateful that this workshop and the Foundation gave me the tools to share my love of paddling with even more visitors to our parks and forests,” said Borcz.
Founded in 1999, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation supports 120 state parks and 2.2 million acres of forest by coordinating volunteers, activities and donations through its 34 chapters. The nonprofit promotes outdoor recreation, healthier life styles and environmental education.