be.well Halloween Hike for Children With Disabilities Sparked Joy

The be.well Adaptive Hiking Program by Cincinnati Parks Foundation, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and Luke5Adventures concluded with a costumed hike at Caldwell Nature Center. This 8-week hybrid program made hiking accessible in Cincinnati Parks across the city. Over 100 participants were given a Passport Book to earn prizes for visiting Cincinnati Parks, which they claimed at the Halloween Hike. “We are so proud to have invested in this pilot program with Cincinnati Children’s and the be.well Program. Inclusion and accessibility are some of our core values and we are honored to bring programming like this your Cincinnati Parks,” stated Cincinnati Parks Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Spieser.        

Cincinnati Park Board Commissioner and former City Council Member, Kevin Flynn visited the event and said, “Thank you to Cincinnati Children’s and to Luke5Adventures for supporting our Cincinnati Parks Foundation and Cincinnati Parks to make Parks available to those of us who are differently-abled. Being able to get on a trail is good for your physical and mental health, even if you use a wheelchair.” 

Keeping social distance, families came and toured a pumpkin-filled trail, filled their bags with candy, and enjoyed a beautiful day in the woods. While most Halloween activity was cancelled in 2020, this safe event gave children with disabilities a truly magical day to remember for years to come. 

The special partnership with Luke5Adventures made it possible for children of any ability to get out on the trail. Their special all-terrain chair cycles (called Rosies) can handle almost any obstacle in the woods, giving kids access to nature that would be otherwise inaccessible. “I have been so impressed with the natural beauty, trail systems and facilities of the Cincinnati Parks.  The Parks Dept. has done a great job of opening its arms to Luke5Adventures and the disability community,” said Luke5Adventures Director Kevin Schwieger.

The Fall Adaptive Hiking Program was part of the year-long partnership between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Cincinnati Parks Foundation. The spring session offered an Adaptive Running Program that concluded with a 5K race at Smale Riverfront Park.

“At Cincinnati Children’s, we are passionate about improving our services for all children, regardless of ability. Our efforts over the past several years have focused on bridging the gap between skilled therapy services and participation in the community setting through purposeful programming, like be.well hiking and key partnerships, like the Cincinnati Parks Foundation. The results have been compelling! Children with developmental challenges have found the confidence to play and pursue health in new community spaces,” said Rebecca D. Reder, Senior Clinical Director of the Division of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

 

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