Overcome Barriers To Access The Great Outdoors
Barriers to participation
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes barriers as being more than just physical obstacles.
“Factors in a person’s environment that, through their absence or presence, limit functioning and create disability. These include aspects such as:
- a physical environment that is not accessible,
- lack of relevant assistive technology (assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices),
- negative attitudes of people towards disability,
- services, systems and policies that are either nonexistent or that hinder the involvement of all people with a health condition in all areas of life.”
Often there are multiple barriers that can make it extremely difficult or even impossible for people with disabilities to function. Here are the seven most common barriers.
At Bendrigg our mission is to give people the opportunity to smash through these barriers by doing things they may have never thought possible. We know that what we do helps to improve our participants confidence and self esteem. The hope is that upon completing their course at Bendrigg, each participant feels confident enough to overcome new barriers and face any challenges head on with a “I can do this” positive mental attitude.
The outdoor environment gives us a unique sense of freedom and we believe it’s extremely important that people of all abilities have access to the outdoors, not only as part of a residential, but on a regular basis back at home.
As well as an endless list of health benefits, time spent outdoors is proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels, eliminate mental fatigue, improve memory, boost your immune system and work wonders for your mental health.
6 ideas and resources to help overcome barriers when accessing the great outdoors
1. The Wildlife Trust – Nature Reserves
There are many therapeutic benefits for people with disabilities to immerse themselves in nature. Nature reserves often offer a quieter environment which can help to restore balance in an over stimulated mind.
The Wildlife Trust have a number of accessible nature reserves across the country which offer close encounters with UK wildlife. From bird watching in a hide to exploring ancient woodland, nature reserves offer a quiet and exciting opportunity to connect with nature and wildlife.
2. Gardening & Horticultural Therapy
The therapeutic benefits of gardening on body and soul are well recognised nowadays. Countless reports have demonstrated the positive effects on physical, psychological and social health.
Thrive uses gardening to bring about positive changes in the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health, or are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable. They have 3 centres in the UK but also have access to volunteering projects around the UK that you could get involved in. Some of your local gardens may take on volunteers with the view to help people learn new skills, develop their confidence with gardening and meet new people. Helmsley Walled Garden are a great example of this!
Kingwood is a charity that provide support for people with Asperger Syndrome and Autism, they have put together a detailed report called Green Spaces, which explores outdoor environments for adults with Autism, you can read the full report online – click on the first search result to download the report here.
3. The Outdoor Guide – Access Tog
Julia Bradbury has developed a fantastic website “The Outdoor Guide” which has it’s very own Access TOG section with heaps of wheel-friendly walks across the UK. Each walk has been tried, tested and written up by Debbie North. The blog is full of helpful and practical advice including reviews of all terrain wheelchairs.
An outright purchase of an all terrain wheelchair can be expensive, but with a little research you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amount of local places that hire them out free of charge. Many National Trust sites do this, including Tarn Hows, Malham Tarn and Fountains Abbey – You must call ahead to pre-book.
4. Help With Transport Costs
Government and local councils offer discounts schemes and passes for disabled travellers and their carers. From rail cards to bus passes and dial-a-ride door-to-door minibus services – you can find out more information on this helpful page on The Mencap website.
5. Tackling Negative Attitudes
People with disabilities face many barriers every day–from physical obstacles in buildings to systemic barriers in employment and civic programs. Yet, often, the most difficult barriers to overcome are attitudes other people carry regarding people with disabilities.
A remedy for this is familiarity, getting people with and without disabilities to mingle as coworkers, associates and social acquaintances. In time, most of the attitudes will give way to comfort, respect and friendship. For example, volunteers to Bendrigg often come to us for the first time, not having much experience or knowledge of the difficulties that people with disabilities face. After having volunteered with us, they learn the importance of recognising a persons ability over there disability. They also share their experience with friends, families or work colleagues and become advocates, promoting equality and challenging peoples perceptions of disability.
6. Research local facilities and resources
After a quick google search or a look on Euan’s Guide, you may be surprised at what accessible facilities are available in your area. Whether it’s accessible walks, a quiet hour at your local swimming pool or accessible events, it’s always worth researching to see what’s available close by.
At Bendrigg we offer regular services and clubs for people with disabilities in our local community.
These services include :
- a regular inclusive climbing club and outdoor rock days during half term!
- our aiming high community playing field, complete with accessible roundabout, swing, nest swing and a range of adaptive bikes and trikes for all the family to enjoy.
- sensory room open sessions every Monday morning excluding bank holidays – Bendrigg opens it’s sensory room to members of the public for 2 x 1 hour sessions in our fantastic sensory room.
- Last but not least, our inclusive activity festival is coming up on the 28th September 2019. Our accessible and inclusive activity festival gives everyone to opportunity to come and have a taste of adventure! From flying down the zip wire, to climbing and abseiling – it’s a fun filled day for all the family to enjoy.
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