Summer Adventure is the time to celebrate all the ways we enjoy and engage with nature! Find out ways we can engage with nature with our different abilities.
Engaging with Nature with Mobility Impairments
Guest blog post by Jenna Brotsky.
When we say Summer Adventure is for all ages and abilities, what does that really mean? This year’s theme is Wonder in Nature, and many people with disabilities know all too well that nature-focused events and programs are rarely designed with them in mind. Even outdoor public spaces like parks are not always built or maintained to accommodate disabled people, especially folks with physical disabilities.*
We at Alameda County Library do our best to actively welcome and serve the disabled community as part of our commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Summer Adventure: Wonder in Nature was designed from the ground up to include all bodies and all abilities, and the vast majority, if not all, of the activities found in the Adventure Guide can be interpreted in ways that let people of any ability participate.
We encourage you to share in your submissions how you created a Summer Adventure that fits your abilities, whatever they are! Personally, I’m sharing my adventure with my best friend, who uses crutches or a wheelchair. Here are some examples of how my friend and others with mobility impairments might interpret activities from the Adventure Guide:
Pursue your curiosity and explore beyond your daily path (Discover)
- Find a new outdoor adventure through disability-centered resources like the Access Northern California website or A Wheelchair Rider’s Guide to the Bay Area (both created by Bonnie Lewkowicz, local disability rights activist, nature-lover, and wheelchair rider)
- Visit an accommodating cultural center (museum, zoo, planetarium, etc.) that’s new to you, or explore new exhibits at an old favorite
- Take a new route to somewhere you visit often, or discuss with others why the route you usually take fits your needs best
Plant or nurture something living and enjoy what happens when you care for it (Create)
- Try out accessible gardening techniques, like raised beds, adaptive gardening tools, and low-maintenance plants; alternatively, care for house plants that can thrive in easy-to-reach places
- Spend quality time with a pet or service animal in your life
- Use library materials to learn new things about caring for plants and animals
Explore a local group that cares for the Earth or seeks to understand it better (Connect)
- Find environmentalist groups in your area by word of mouth, online research, or with help from a reference librarian and learn how you can participate or even join
- Visit and better appreciate local nature with others on a group outing for people with impaired mobility (provided by BORP, the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program)
- Keep an eye out for Summer Adventure library events that involve local environmental or nature-focused organizations
Those are just a few ideas for how people with impaired mobility might celebrate Wonder in Nature! We’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you, as a person with disabilities or as an ally, see a way we can improve in that direction, please let us know! Feel free to comment on this post or contact us. Happy adventuring to all!
*Ableism (discrimination against people with disabilities) is a pervasive type of bigotry in our world, but it’s often left out of our society’s broader conversations on equity and diversity. If you would like to learn more about this form of oppression and the disability rights movement, this booklist is a great starting point for readers of all ages.
These resources explain the basics of ableism (discrimination against people with disabilities) and the on-going fight for disabled rights by members of the disabled community and their abled allies. The list includes materials for children, teens, and adults.