Outdoor accessibility in Manitoba has come a long way. But for it to progress further, “those who create outdoor activities, buildings and paths need to involve people with disabilities in the process,” says Natalie Pirson,
a consultant with the Independent Living Resource Centre. A manual wheelchair user, Pirson believes that not engaging Manitobans with disabilities is detrimental to building an inclusive society. The key, she says,
is independently experiencing outdoor adventures, such as canoeing—a memorable adventure she enjoyed for the first time last year. Here are a few other accessible pursuits across the province.
The Able Sail program at FortWhyte Alive, facilitated by the Independent Living Resource Centre, makes sailing accessible to all people with untippable boats. The program is open to anyone living with physical or mental challenges. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org. AMA members save 50% on second general admission with the purchase of first admission to FortWhyte Alive.
Head about 190 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg to escape city life and be at one with nature at Birch Point Provincial Park. Campsites dot the shore of Lake of the Woods and most are wheelchair accessible. Birders: Keep an eye out for spring warblers, ruffed grouse, osprey and great blue heron. In August, look to the sky to spot migrating monarch butterflies.
DAY AT THE BEACH
Pack a beach picnic and bask in the summer sun. In 2018, the non-profit group Friends of St. Malo Park set a goal to make the provincial park the most accessible in Manitoba. Mobi mats, designed to facilitate navigating the sand, have been installed, while more barrier-free additions (like wheelchair-accessible docks and playgrounds) are planned for the future.
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TAKE A HIKE
Spanning 30 km, the Bishop Grandin Greenway Trail is Winnipeg’s longest multi-way trail. The paved pathway suits both wheelchair and stroller users, making it perfect for families. Running east to west, it connects several communities and passes over the Red River. Three neighbouring ponds—Apakway, Eagles and Nature’s Haven—host countless species of birds, butterflies and reptiles.
ICE FOR ALL
Located in South St. Vital, the Dakota Community Centre hosts the province’s first fully accessible outdoor rink—and summertime beach volleyball court. It’s equipped with bars to facilitate moving from a wheelchair to a sledge, and there’s no lip to hop when you enter the surface. You’ll also find larger-than-average benches to better accommodate wheelchair users.