WHITEHOUSE, Ohio — No one should be prevented from enjoying the natural beauty of our region based on their ability to get around, and Metroparks Toledo is making sure that’s true for all their visitors.
Visitors to Oak Openings Preserve Metropark are now able to rent out a new all-terrain wheelchair, or Track Chair, that the park says will allow users to explore almost any trail.
And when we say “all-terrain” we mean it.
Thanks to two sets of large treads, the chair can roll over rocks, roots, sand, mud, and snow.
And the best part is, thanks to a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, users are able to rent the chair for up to three hours at a time for free.
On Saturday, the Executive Director of the Ability Center in Toledo, Stuart James, tried out the new track chair.
"It allows me to participate in things with my wife that I wouldn't otherwise be able to do,” said James. “And the fact that Metroparks thought about that kind of thing is really amazing."
The Track Chair, available year-round, is loaded with features designed to allow people of all abilities the chance to explore the park.
They include, a 4-point harness, flip up footrest, head rest, leg and side supports, an oxygen tank holder, a transfer handle, and a hook for a backpack. There are no weight restrictions to use the chair.
James was quick to point out how important it is for everyone to be able to access parks and recreation opportunities that most people take for granted.
“It’s important for the community to realize that these resources are available to them. It's important that people realize that Metroparks have these amazing parks,” said James. “It’s special, and I think the community needs to keep investing in these kinds of things.”
There are a few stipulations however for people who want to use the chair.
For safety reasons, users of the chair are required to bring a companion who must be able to assist with a transfer to the chair if that is necessary.
Park staff and volunteers are not able to assist with transfers.
You can request a time to use the chair on the Metroparks Toledo website here or call Ashley Smith, Manager of Park Operations at 419-265-2920.
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