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HomeLifestyleHealth & WellnessHandi-Accessible Nature

Handi-Accessible Nature

I grew up in Michigan so most of my childhood was spent outside climbing trees, swimming across the lake, and catching frogs. I absolutely loved the freedom to roam trails, spy on nature, and go wherever I wanted. When I was diagnosed with an adult-onset variety of Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy at age 30 I was shocked to say the least. My journey from denial to acceptance was bumpy. It’s a good thing I like a challenge.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Get Professional Help  

There should not be any more of a stigma around mental health than there is around physical health. My counselor helped me realize that self-criticism was holding me back. In any sort of training or practice, a neutral third party can provide insights that are invisible from our own perspective.

Find What Works for You  

After ten years of undergoing conventional physical therapy, I came across a specialized form of physical therapy tailored specifically to individuals with disabilities. These professionals possess the expertise and access to specialized equipment required to provide safe and effective support as you explore your physical boundaries and strive to surpass them.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others 

It is unrealistic. Measure your progress against your own record and you will see which practices benefit you the most and which are ineffective or counterproductive.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone  

Don’t be afraid of hard work. When you learn to enjoy pushing yourself and know the difference between pain and discomfort, you can truly transform yourself. It takes consistent effort, and you may have to reevaluate what you consider progress. If football is a game of inches, disability is a game of millimeters.

Get Out into Nature 

The state of Michigan has beautiful parks and trails everywhere. Michigan’s Department of National Resources (DNR) has a list of handi-accessible resources, like barrier-free hunting and fishing facilities and playgrounds. Many Michigan counties have free track chairs for people with disabilities. It’s a good idea to call 24 hours in advance to reserve. Track chairs are basically all terrain vehicles for the disabled community. They can handle mud, snow, gravel, and sand allowing a person with a disability the freedom to join in or explore on their own.

Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR.

Being in the natural world is rejuvenating. It is more than just the sum of its parts: whole body relaxation, being in the moment, a massive oxygen boost. It is a sensory experience that feeds our Biophilia – our innate love of life in all its bizarre splendor.

Even though there are no track chairs in my county, there are at least a dozen parks and nature centers with handi-accessible trails. I plan to visit every one of them before the weather changes. And if I can do it, so can you.

Do you know something I don’t? If you know of a handi-accessible resource for Michiganders, email me and I will include it in a follow-up on the livelovelocalmi.com website. heidifarmer3@gmail.com

You can find a list of Handi-Accessible Track Chairs and links for reservations at Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Photos courtesy of Michigan DNR and Action Track Chair.

Watch the video from Michigan DNR and handi-accessible track chairs.

Heidi Farmer
Heidi Farmerhttp://sites.google.com/view/heidihocreativepro.com
A dedicated Community Writer specializing in politics, places, and people within Genesee County, Heidi holds an Associate of Applied Arts Degree in Electronic Communications from Delta College, and a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design with a Minor in Technical and Professional Writing from Saginaw Valley State University. Heidi's talent as an illustrator earned her the Illustrator of the Year Award during her time at Delta. She began her writing career in 2013 with the Lifestyle magazine North Midland Living. Heidi is also a versatile multimedia artist driven by a passion for expanding green spaces and promoting the planting of Native Species for ecological balance and serene human interaction.
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