Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Jake does it!

Jake is a student at Bega High School and has Cerebral Palsy.

This video, narrated by Jake, tells of his utter delight being out and about on the TrailRider.

It is what Ros and I always dreamt of and what, somehow, we want to turn the NSW and Victoria education sectors on to.

Don't worry that this leads to a Facebook Page - it is Public and you don't have to join!

Please join me in Liking the Bournda Environmental Education Centre on Facebook!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Should I, shouldn't I?

As TrailRider Tales nears 80,000 views (this post will tip the balance) I have been cold-called, for the first time, by an American agency offering me $40 to let a client put a Guest Post here.

I would have right of veto over the topic - I could even propose my own - the money would change hands if I linked to their blog.

What, dear reader, do you think?


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Late news of the O'keefe race

As regular readers will realise I have been delving into recent TrailRider history and Cara Smith, Disability Inclusion Officer at Bendigo City and Loddon Shire, has been kind enough to send me some juicy snippets about April's O'keefe Rail Trail Race in which three TrailRiders took part.


The effort by locals Dan O’Bree and Travis Edwards in assisting young Marney Lamb (living with cerebal palsy) in the ‘trail rider’ in  the 42.195 km marathon event was remarkable. Green added, “this displayed great courage and community spirit. This community spirit shone through in other volunteer assisted activities throughout the day.”

Two all abilities teams also participated in the Ekiden Relay providing the opportunity for Jika Knight and Matt Creer to be part of the event.  They were assisted by their families and teammates.

The Bendigo Advertiser also wrote about Jika preparing for the race here and you can Like the Rail Trail on Facebook below if you like (!)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Ability Adventure on ABC Hobart

A few posts ago I wrote about the Ability Adventure on Mount Field, near Hobart in Tasmania. Since then I have been contacted by Cody McCracken, from Wild Pedder, with a recording of his interview on ABC Hobart. 

I have made that into this video.

Like the Wild Pedder Facebook page





Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A dream come true

Mr Freedman (Bega HS), Jake and Learning Support
Officer Catherine. Click pic to read story
In 2011 the TrailRider was launched in the Grampians. Ros and I have carried, since then, the mental picture of the parents with the disabled child who just happened upon the launch and took Mitchell for a spin.

The joy in their faces convinced us that the ideal passenger was a child and more or less immediately saw that the ideal sherpas were the classmates of that child. The team feeling, the shared venture, the young pilot back in the wilderness. There was even an academic journal paper written about this!

There have been forays into this school/TrailRider space but none as convincing as this one, that I hinted at in my post yesterday - the Bournda Environmental Education Centre, in the Bournda National Park in NSW has bought their own TrailRider and here is their story.

Please join me in Liking the Bournda Environmental Education Centre on Facebook!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Mount Field Tasmania - an Ability Adventure

Luke surrounded by the Park greemery
And, along the way, another of the missing TrailRiders. More on that later in, what will be, one of my l o n g e r posts.

But first to Mount Field,100 km away from Hobart in Tasmania, it is one of the jewels in the crown of Tasmania Parks and Wildlife. For a long time Andrew Smith, my contact there, has been trying to make it happen and finally he has found the funds to put a TrailRider there.

Along with Kunayi, disabled folk in the State's capital are now well catered for.

The first real try out was last weekend's Access Adventure (great name!) in which Luke Ogden had a great time. Over to him - G’day David I have used the Trailrider that is at Mount Field National Park. I had so much fun. I have Ataxia-Telangiectasia 
("ay-TACK-see-uh Teh-LAN-jick-TAY-sha")
is a rare inherited disorder that affects the nervous system, immune system, and other body systems
Ataxia-telangiectasia occurs in 1 in 400,000 people worldwide

Now the question of "missing" TrailRiders. I spent a day on this last week so please humour me as I go on a bit. Basically I have been trying to reconcile Stephen Hunter (in Vancouver, where they are made) reporting the number he has sent to Australia with the one's I list in the Directory or know about through other channels.

I have been talking to the two Australian distributors, GMS Rehab and Mobility Plus and then following up on who their customers have been and learning extraordinary things as I build up this spreadsheet.

Of the ten that I declared "missing" in my earlier post:
  • One never existed. Stephen reported selling 31 to the Australian distributors but they only bought 30!
  • Two are on a "secret PV project" which, when I can announce it, will be one of the most exciting things I have ever spoken of here
  • One is in Mt Field as this post shows
  • One is on Kunayi at Hobart
  • One in in stock at GMS
  • One is on its way to the Flinders
  • One is in my shed
  • One is in Bournda National Park in NSW. That will be part of another very exciting announcement that I cannot, quite yet, speak of in public
  • One (the last) is kept on hand by Parks Victoria for Community  Events
Like Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service on Facebook below:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Access friendly NSW

The Dorigo chair in action
Parks NSW are doing it with spades. Here is their TrailRider page.

Hats off to their web designers because this page was really, really easy to find and also hats off to Christina Bullivant for making this all happen.

Like the NSW Facebook Page below

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Found one "missing" TrailRider!

Kunayi (AKA Mt Wellington) - soon to have its own TrailRider
I have just come to the end of a phone conversation with Robert Armstrong at Hobart City Council.

The motorised TrailRider chair that they have bought will soon be available at Kunayi (AKA Mt Wellington)

As soon as the details are decided I will post and make a new entry in the Directory.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Me

"Like being rocked in the womb" Ros' first experience of
TrailRiding i the Grampians training  volunteer sherpas
This post is all about me - not.

Three times in the past year my wife, Ros, has saved my life. Twice I had seizures at home and she did CPR. That led to the decision that it was no longer safe for me to live at home. That agonising re-arrangement of our lives led to me spending almost two months in a shared Rehab ward waiting for a single room to become available in Ellery House, the high needs nursing home.

The Monday before last she saved my life for the third time. The shared ward faced North and caught the sun, the day was warm and the heating still thought it was winter. Overheated (37 degrees) I was weak as a kitten and begged Ros to rescue me. 

She spoke to all the right people, emphasising the seriousness of my plight, and the next day, magically, I was offered a room. Now I can talk to my phone, use it on Speaker and watch TV without headphones. It is great.

On Tuesday I am being set up with my own NBN (National Broadband Network) connection and I will have 50 cent Gigabytes again - $4 at the moment.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Where are all the TrailRiders?

An original working drawing of the Black Diamond design 
The Directory lists those I know of - there are 19. Last night I had a long talk with Stephen Hunter at the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation who sell this beautiful piece of engineering and his email this morning confirms that they have sold 31 to the Australian distributors - 29 to GMS Rehab and two to Mobility Plus who are still in the throes of upgrading their website.

Two of the missing chairs I know about - one is in my shed and the other, which I just found out about is in Mt Field national park in (near!) Hobart.

But that leaves ten

My next phone call is to GMS. I just spoke to Mobility Plus and they sold the Hobart chair and one to another Parks organisation in a State that they will confirm by email.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Guest post from Kate Hood

Once again this is not about the TrailRider. Instead we are paying attention to theatre, theatre that casts disabled actors as readily as able bodied ones - what I choose to call cripple blind casting.

Following on with the cripple word that is really only alright for a disabled person to use (who has reclaimed the word nigger or queer?) Kate Hood has founded a production company named Raspberry Ripple which is Cockney rhyming slang for cripple. 

The mandate of RR is to propel actors, of all abilities, toward the stage. Not least Kate, who like me, is wheelchair bound.

Again we see a way that the world is shifting its axis toward that of the disabled. TrailRider, public housing, theatre. All on the same page.

The recording is Kate's open audition for the Bell Shakespeare Company and it was a rendition of To be or not to be 

Like the Raspberry Ripple Facebook page

Sunday, September 10, 2017

An up"lift"ing tale (not)

Elena Gorodeskti - click to hear her interviewed
This post has nothing to do with the TrailRider but is simply my way of bragging about my relative, George Deutsch's efforts and, along the way, pass on an amusing tale that shows how far we have come regarding a world that accepts disability.

George went to record this interview to the Melbourne public housing apartment of  Elena Gorodestki who is one of the few survivors of the Babi Yar massacre in which the Nazis shot more than 33,000 Jews in a single day. Listen.

Elena lives far up the tower block. There is a lift to her apartment. But only from the third floor!

The sixties designers of the building did not want to seem to be favouring tenants there over those in the three storey blocks who, of course, had no lifts. Go figure.

Read the Sunday Age article here

Read the Limelight review of the concert here


If you are reading from outside Australia I'd be interested to know if the ABC link works .

Saturday, September 9, 2017

ABC Lateline for Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Slowly, surely, the message is getting out there about disability not holding you back from life in all its glory. We have spoken here before about Julie Jones and HWWT (Have Wheelchair Will Travel) - incidentally now at 12,242 Likes on Facebook.

This Lateline segment about HWWT, which includes a snippet of BJ in a TrailRider, is a sign of the word spreading.

Like the HWWT Facebook Page.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

YVR Rocks

If you have dabbled in the airline world you might recognise YVR as the three letter code for Vancouver International Airport. YVR rocks because of their partnership with BCMOS (British Columbia Mobile Opportunity Society) to provide accessible hiking experiences to everyone.

The Vancouver Airport people have gone above and beyond in supporting and sustaining the Mobile Opportunity Society including the production of this video.

Monday, September 4, 2017

TrailRider track grading

Click to view the Guide
A couple of years ago Parks Victoria had their first try at grading track difficulty specifically for TrailRider use. 

Since then they have worked hard on refining that scheme, culminating in the publication of the Grampians All abilities Walking Track TrailRider Guide.

This guide includes (page 10) a more refined grading scheme that is pictured below.

You can read it there (a picture of the page in the guide) or you can download the guide and scroll to page 10.

The guide is a particular tribute to the sustained efforts of ranger, Matt White, at the Grampians.



Saturday, August 26, 2017

A near miss

Click to view document
A couple of posts ago I told of John Kenwright being a finalist in the Emerging Leader category of the 2017 Victorian Disability Awards Sadly the results have just been announced and sadly, John Kenwright was pipped at the post.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

A blast from the past

This was my post five years ago and so much has changed (including the Lysterfield TrailRider moving to Yarra Ranges Of course you can pick it up there and take it to Lysterfield)

This is what was said in September 2012

Lysterfield Park in Melbourne saw the official launch of another Parks Victoria Trail Rider and the Wild Places DVD.

Brad Battin and John Kenwright
show off the chair
The event was opened by Brad Battin, State member for Gembrook.

The chair is available from the TrailMix cafe at the park.



Several exciting ideas came to the fore:

  • A volunteer sherpa program of some kind was discussed. A way that riders who did not have the right kind of family or friends could still go out there
  • The Oxfam walk - in a TrailRider in 2013. Brad even offered to push!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Finally!

Regular readers of this blog will have heard one name over and over again - John Kenwright the Parks Victoria Community Inclusion Coordinator. More than anyone (apart from Ros and me launching the ship) he has kept the TrailRider ship afloat and surging onwards. Just put his name in the Search This Blog box on the right (on a computer) and see how many hits you get.

As I'm at pains to point out, in most of the TrailRider speeches I've given, he does this on one of the five days in his working week. The other four he is doing something else as amazing for the disabled.

It is therefore entirely appropriate that he is one of six finalists in the Emerging Leader category of the 2017 Victorian Disability Awards

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Rumour Mill

A specially thrilled BJ
Click pic to visit Disability Foundation website
My first ever TrailRider email was from Stephen Hunter at the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation and the other day I received another from him.

This what he said:

I am reaching out to determine whether is any truth to the rumour someone in Australia is building or seriously considering building a TrailRider like device

Does anyone know something that I don't?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

In The Flinders - the first privately run TrailRider

Who, I wonder, is hiding?
Click pic to visit website
A few posts ago I spoke of Quinten van der Werf who, with others, runs a series of eco-resorts that give people access to the Flinders Ranges, a beautiful area to the north of South Australia.You need not feel bad - it was buried at the foot of a multi-subject post (Note to self: Don't mix subjects in the same message)

The reason this is so significant in Australian TrailRider history is that, up to this one, all the TrailRiders have been publicly funded by local councils or parks organisations. Perhaps a threshold has been crossed.

In the words of the Port Pirire Recorder - well read on:

"People with disabilities will now be able to visit the Flinders Rangers in an all-terrain wheelchair, thanks to a grant announced by Independent Frome MP Geoff Brock.

Mr Brock, who is Regional Development Minister, revealed the winners of the ‘Fund My Idea’ grant.

The nominees were published to the YourSAy website. Over a three-week period the public voted for how they felt the money should be spent. Alan Clarke, of Bangor, and Quinten van der Werf, of Wirrabara, are managing partners of ‘In the Flinders’ and were awarded $13,950 for their Trails for Everyone initiative. 

The money was granted to their program for the purchase of an all-terrain wheelchair that will allow people with disabilities to explore previously inaccessible trails.

The two say they have “always had a passion for the outdoors” and began ‘In the Flinders’ to provide an authentic Southern Flinders Ranges experience to the world by offering unique and memorable nature-based adventures

They said that the southern Flinders Ranges were the best place to introduce the wheelchair because they are more easily accessible from towns and roads than other iconic hiking trails. 

Both feel that the ranges are a relaxing environment that provides non-daunting experiences of serenity and solitude.

The single-wheeled, off-road wheel chair known as the Trail Rider will be used at Mount Remarkable, Wirrabara and on the Heysen Trail, a 1200km path from Cape Jervis to Parachutist Gorge.

It is equipped with brake assist and an electric motor that will maximize their ability to freely offer it on tours of Mount Remarkable National Park and surrounding trails of the iconic southern Flinders Ranges.

By introducing the Trail Rider Trails for Everyone aims to promote the inclusivity of people with disabilities and their families.

The funding has also gone towards training people to assist with wheeling, an exercise that both Mr Clarke and Mr van der Werf will personally undertake. 

The training of staff and the Trail Rider itself ensures that when people with disabilities and their families plan vacations in the Flinders Ranges, they won't miss out the experiences that only ever been accessible to able-bodied people.

The Trail Rider will also be used to assist senior citizens.

Wilma Cillie, nursing unit manager at Booleroo Centre District Hospital, has experience in caring for people who suffer from dementia and have suffered strokes. 

She believes that because they are mostly outdoor people and farmers, it will “be great to get them out and about on a track and allow them to feel and see what they used to”. 

She is a strong advocate of the Trails for Everyone program and says that they will use the service at the hospital.

Regarding their motivation for creating this program, Mr van der Werf said: “We hope to ensure that people with disabilities will be able to experience the outdoor scenic wonders of South Australia that many of us take for granted. 

Mr Clarke added: “We tried to put ourselves in their shoes and thought about how we would feel if we were prevented from exploring the outdoors that we love because of a disability.”

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Guest Post from Matt Jackson - CEO Parks Victoria

Following on from the previous Jackson's guest post here is Matt Jackson.Over to you Matt...


"To me, a key part of Healthy Parks Healthy People is making sure that everyone can connect with and enjoy nature to get the health benefits that come from that.

I can only imagine the joy that David Stratton and others of limited mobility experience when the natural world is opened up to them through the TrailRider and they can see places they previously couldn’t get to. It’s a wonderful thing indeed and I’m really proud to be part of an organisation that has worked consistently over many years to see TrailRiders become available in more and more places.

At Parks Victoria, important work is being done to build the knowledge of the health benefits of parks. Our parks currently play a critical role in promoting healthy lifestyles. Our data shows Victoria’s parks attract more than 50 million visits each year, and there are more than 45 million visits to our piers and jetties for fishing, boating and relaxation.

We think the benefits of parks and nature for our health and wellbeing have been greatly under-recognised and undervalued. There are many opportunities to utilise the power of nature for public health. We believe being active in nature can be a highly cost effective contributor in helping to tackle many of our growing public health issues such as obesity, depression and anxiety, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.

Parks Victoria is increasingly working with many providers from the public health sector by connecting (or reconnecting) people with nature.  In turn more people become advocates for conserving our precious biodiversity and greenspace.

We have some great partnerships in place –  with researchers to review and build the evidence and fill knowledge gaps. We’re also working with our partners in other government departments to ensure that nature-based health and active living programs in parks are included in key government plans. We’re developing many different partnerships with the community and disability sectors for groups such as at risk teens, children, seniors and new migrants, and working with Traditional Owners to further enable cultural and spiritual connection and reconnection for health and wellbeing.

There are so many opportunities to utilise the power of nature for the health of the community. And this is being recognised more and more widely. It was great to see the link between a healthy environment and community health and wellbeing was formally recently recognised by the Victorian Government through a Memorandum on Health and Nature, jointly signed by the Minister for Health and the Minister for Energy, Environment and climate change.


David and Ros have provided a great role model for others with good ideas, passion and commitment to work with us and make great things happen. That openness and commitment to partnerships is a key aspect of our Healthy Parks Healthy People approach.

I encourage and welcome others to follow their example.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fund My Idea in the Flinders Ranges

Click pic to see what it's all about
Quinten van der Werf's idea is to make the beauties of the Flinders Ranges, in South Australia, available to everyone

The South Australian government lets the people (trolls and robots excepted!) assess the relevance of these ideas through the YourSAy website (clever name!) and if I could assemble a robot to shout about this one I would.

Read what Quentin is suggesting or tweet about @intheflinders - yes, I'm getting with the plot!

Friday, May 12, 2017

A perfect circle!

The first two of the many subsequent faces that launched the
20 Australian TrailRiders
On 28th August 2009 Donna Morgan went out and spent $10 - and took me, against my better judgement, out on my first-ever TrailRider ride. Along with inaugural sherpas Ros (wife), Jeanne (neighbour), Sam (son), Geordie (neighbour's son), Rachel (son's partner) and Brandy (Donna's dog) they took me up Cypress Mountain in Vancouver as Wild Places (5 minute Youtube and almost 5000 views) will tell you more about.

Along with my first glowing experience of the sherpa volunteer program - Axel - and Jeanne, we went for an ice cream in Halls Gap and celebrated the first eight years of Australian TrailRider history.

There's much more to tell and many more to thank but try using the search box at the right to read posts about Ros Hart, John Kenwright, Rodney Brooke, Joanne Brooke...

The inventor of the TrailRider, Sam Sullivan (search again!) came very close yesterday to losing his seat on the Canadian, British Columbian, State Parliament but (and?) this will be the way he will be remembered 100 years from now.

Nurses Julie and Rhonda were auxiliary stars getting me up and out to be collected at 9am for Jeanne to drive, two hours on the wrong side of the road, to the Grampians National Park.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Posting from respite

Click to study 2009 pic. Donna in a box!
For readers that do not already know, respite is when the care recipient (me) gets looked after in a high needs nursing home and I vacate the Carer's (Ros') head. My beloved wife Ros is somewhat free for three weeks. Needless to say Mr MS, which is how Ros brilliantly externalises the demon, mostly stays with me.

Notice the somewhat and the mostly - they are important. The Carer's lot is never over until...

So posting becomes a little different. My best friend, apart from Ros, is visiting from Vancouver. Home of the TrailRider. Jeanne's wife Donna first introduced us to the TrailRider in 2009 so talking and dining and introducing is the go. Hence this unusual mixed bag post.

Dorigo

...is a park in New South Wales where a TrailRider is currently available. The Have Wheelchair Will Travel blog went on an outing there.

Click to study pic - look at BJ's face! Nature as it's meant to be


Signs

Parks Victoria is currently working on a refinement of these signs.When they announce, so will I.

70,000 page views

This slipped by without my usual, self-congratulatory, post. Believe me, you won't get off this easily when we hit 100,000!

Flinders Ranges

For non-Aussies these are a magnificent place to visit in the north of South Australia.

Quinten van der Werf is the founder of In The Flinders and is working hard at setting up a TrailRider so that we wheelies can share the beauty.

If you are on Facebook here is your chance to signal your delight in these endeavours:

Like In The Flinders
and Like Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

USA All Accessibility Project turnng to Australia for TrailRider advice!

Click on pic to watch the All Accessibility Project YouTube 
A recurrent theme here has been how the TrailRider is finding its way into normal Australian society and nothing has said this louder to me than this story.

Colin Quinn-Briggs is an upright (walking person!) who lives in America and is working on a project to get wheelies (non walking people) to the top of the mountain in the picture here.

The YouTube video for the All Accessibility Project can be seen here - if you watch it, and like it, give it the thumbs up just below it. It is well worth watching the 5 minutes but if you are in a hurry skip to 2:37 because this is where he heads down under to find out about the TrailRider.

If you are a Facebook user please Like his page

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Another race with a TrailRider "runner"

Click pic to read the article
In 2013 the first ever (in nearly 30 years) non-walking participant took part in the Oxfam 100km TrailWalker challenge.

In 2017 something less grand, but similar, is soon to take place in the O'Keefe Rail Track marathon.

Jika Knight is preparing to follow in Bruce Tower's footsteps (??) as pilot in this race.

Checkout this Bendigo Advertiser article

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A tale of two Jacksons

Click pic to see presentation flyer
The former CEO of Parks Victoria was Bill Jackson and I had the great pleasure today of  being on his table at the Nature is Good Medicine workshop at the World Congress on Public Health. He is still very actively involved, but now at a global level, in Healthy Parks, Healthy People and, on that account had been invited to take butchers-paper notes at the breakout session named HPHP.

My other great pleasure was shaking hands with Matt Jackson, the new CEO of Parks Victoria as he prepared for a World Leaders Plenary session - talking about Nature is Good Medicine some more.

Sadly son Joshua Hart (thank you, thank you) and I had to run for my taxi back to the train station so we did not hear the session. I will post a video when it becomes available.

Matt too will shortly guest post.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Another World Congress

Click pic to view workshop invitation
This time it's the 15th World Congress on Public Health and I'll be part of the Nature is Good Medicine workshop at 11am on Tuesday morning.

For a mere $440 you can join in too!

I will be on the ACTIVATING THE COMMUNITY IN NATURE FOR BETTER
PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND SOCIAL HEALTH speed dating breakout session.
Click pic to visit website




Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Flourishing

Flourish magazine is published, quarterly, by the private health fund Australian Unity and features many useful tips for keeping fit and well.

Fitter, weller customers make less claims on their insurance so it makes good sense to Australian Unity.

I forget who put me on to Kirstie Bedford but she has, in my opinion, written one of the stand-out articles about the TrailRider.

My only quibble is that the focus is too much on "David". Without the efforts and input of Ros, John Kenwright/Parks Victoria and Jo & Rodney Brooke we could not be where we are today.

I think something extra special is the infographic, TrailRider Facts in the second page below.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Things are hotting up

Click on pic to view story
Getting attention for disability/nature in an increasingly strident Internet can be a fickle thing but, just at moment, there appears to be a growing momentum. 

This piece, from Julie Jones of Have Wheelchair Will Travel has just appeared on the Bound Round site. Bound Round are brimming with ideas for things to with your family - including now your disabled family.

Like the Bound Round Facebook Page

Friday, March 24, 2017

Disabled accommodation "to die for"

Click pic to visit the HWWT blog
 (Have Wheelchair Will Travel)
As a person with MS (pwMS) who is only ever moved around by hoist/sling this picture says more than a great many words. Yes, I kid you not, the bedroom has a hoist-track in the ceiling. This is the Sargood Resort at Collaroy in NSW.

This post on the Have Wheelchair Will Travel blog says more, without me having to type (!) but a very important point, that I did not understand, is that the funding arrangements are such that all this beauty is only available to you if you have a spinal injury.

So don't take "to die for" literally - simply break your back.

I will leave it to Delia Gray, general manager at Royal Rehab in Sydney (who I wrote about in 2013) to say more in her up-coming Guest Post. Please consider this an introduction to her.