Local organizations on Vancouver Island have done a lot to support access to outdoor recreation for people with a wide range of physical and cognitive abilities. They have recognized the importance of access and enjoyment for all in parks and other nature spaces. Thus, today’s blog post will highlight adaptive recreation options in Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, BC.
Where is Strathcona Provincial Park?
Located off the coast of mainland British Columbia (BC), Vancouver Island is a great spot for all things outdoor recreation. From beautiful coastline to lush rain forest, to mountain tops and unique flora and fauna, Vancouver Island is a place for exploration and curiosity. Strathcona Provincial Park, BC’s oldest provincial park, is located in Central Vancouver Island, near communities of the Comox Valley and Campbell River.
Summertime in Strathcona
In the mountains and meadows of Strathcona Provincial Park, BC Parks, Strathcona Wilderness Institute, andthe Rotary Club of Campbell River have joined together to offer the TrailRider Program and other accessible options. Park accessibility considerations include an accessibility-specific trail map, TrailRider rental and volunteer program, wheelchairs with free-wheel attachments and a stroller.
Strathcona Provincial Park’s website describes the TrailRider (Image 1) as a “unique single-tire ‘wheelchair’… designed to facilitate outdoor recreation for individuals living with physical disabilities or reduced mobility”. The TrailRider is not only available for rent, but the program itself allows individuals to sign up and partner with volunteers who will operate the TrailRider at scheduled times. Using the TrailRider, visitors with disabilities and their respective porters can travel along a trail that ends at the stunning Battleship Lake. Offering options like the TrailRider allows people with disabilities to access nature away from the typical accessible trails and allows more visitors to be immersed in the natural environment.
Image 1 (Source)- At the top left, the TrailRider ‘wheelchair’ has a padded seat with leg and arm supports, a single tire with thick tread, two handles behind the head rest, and two below the footrest. Three more images around it shows groups of people using the TrailRider to hike with users of all ages. One image shows a forested path, one a grassy mountainside meadow, and the other a dirt path near rocky snow-capped mountains.
Wintertime in Strathcona
When wintertime comes and the park is blanketed with snow, Mount Washington ski area becomes a popular spot for snow sports. Vancouver Island Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS) is a non-profit organization that offers adaptive skiing and snowboarding opportunities for people with a wide range of cognitive and physical abilities.
VISAS offers adaptive snowboarding and adaptive skiing (Nordic and downhill) lessons at Mount Washington in Strathcona Provincial Park (Image 2). They also offer a “Have a Go” program that allows people to give adaptive snow sports a try without pressure or commitment. These opportunities are essential to inviting diverse communities to various outdoor recreation activities, creating an inclusive and welcoming environment in spaces that have historically been restricted for people with disabilities.
It is thanks to organizations like Strathcona Provincial Park, the Rotary Club of Campbell River, Strathcona Wilderness Institute, and Vancouver Island Adaptive Snowsports that individuals can access more rugged areas of the sub-alpine with minimal cost to enjoy time with friends, family, or tranquil alone time. For more information about these programs, click on the hyperlink titles above to access organization websites!
Image 2 (Source)- A person sits in an adaptive ski chair, surrounded by snow. They stretch their arms out, holding two poles with small ski-boards at their ends. One person wearing a ski helmet stands in front of them, and one stands behind them holding a bar at the back of their ski chair.