Camp Hill, PA –The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF), the only non-profit whose mission is Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests, has a long term goal of placing an accessible canoe and kayak launch at Little Buffalo State Park. To kick start the $50,000 fundraising goal, a challenge grant from McCormac Foundation of up to $10,000 has been received. For every dollar donated to PPFF by December 31, 2018 to the Little Buffalo Dock Fund, the McCormac Foundation will match with a dollar, up to $10,000.
According to Cornell University’s annual Disability Status Report, 7.3% of Pennsylvania’s population has an ambulatory disability.
From canoeing to kayaking and rafting, paddle sports have become increasingly popular in the disabled community in recent years. Part of the reason is the relative affordability and the proximity of lakes like at Little Buffalo State Park. Children and adults with disabilities , wounded veterans, and people with balance challenges are safely experiencing new freedom, learning new skills, and benefiting from the exercise. As a sport, paddling emphasizes the individual’s ability, with water acting as the great equalizer. Places where PPFF has placed accessible canoe and kayak launches
Pennsylvania also has an aging population, which sometimes means reduced mobility and balance challenges. An ADA dock empowers people of all ages to engage in healthy living by reducing stress, empowering personal fitness, and developing skills and confidence. As one user of a dock said, “Being able to navigate the water on my own built my confidence, enabling me to regain my independence and personal power.”
Little Buffalo State Park, located 40 miles northwest of Harrisburg, receives about 400,000 visitors a year. Visitors commonly come from Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, and Juniata counties. The goal is to make Holman Lake at Little Buffalo State Park accessible to people of all abilities through the placement of an ADA dock, such as the one pictured on the left.
The kayak launch and associated site preparation to accommodate wheelchairs will greatly improve visitor access to Holman Lake, particularly those with disabilities, balance issues, or suffering from a medical impairment.
The accessible transfer system for kayaks and canoes provides individuals with disabilities accessibility that exceeds the minimum requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The transfer bench and transfer slide boards allow users to transfer from their wheelchairs to the bench, then slide over to a point directly above the waiting boat, and drop down into a kayak or canoe. Side rails along the launch allow boaters to push off into the water or pull their boats back into place to transfer back out and into the chair. The transfer bench is built with two heights for transfer from wheelchairs of varying sizes, and the transfer slide boards accommodate differing watercraft heights.
PPFF’s experience has found that all populations, including Veterans with mobility issues, have benefitted by the placement of ADA docks at other locations. Spending time on the water is a great way to not only enjoy our state parks, it has also been shown to reduce stress, build endurance, improve mental health, and create a sense of community with other paddlers.
To help the Foundation reach the $10,000 mark by December 31st, contributions can be made at: http://bit.ly/LittleBuffDock