As a part of their Access for Everyone program, Disability Network has kicked off a campaign to raise funds to make the beaches at Bryant Park in Traverse City and Camp Petosega in Alanson accessible through the purchase of beach pathways. The program has had success with raising funds to make Clinch Park Beach in Traverse City, Petoskey State Park Beach in Petoskey, and Whiting Park Beach in Boyne City accessible.
Lauren Vaughn, Parks and Recreation Superintendent for the City of Traverse City, stated, "Adding access paths to the waters edge increases opportunities for entire families to participate in water play together, and to share the enjoyment of being near the water, where before, part of the family could only observe from a distance." Disability Network hopes to raise $23,000 total to make both popular Northern Michigan beaches usable for people of all abilities. "Along with individuals who use wheelchairs, the access paths make it easier for those with limited mobility or that have difficulty walking in the sand, to enjoy the waterfront at the beach. It also makes access easier for families with strollers to get to the water," stated Vaughn. "As a community, we want to make as many recreation opportunities available to as many people as possible. These access paths create opportunities for many people who otherwise could not partake in these activities," he shared.
"Our goal is to raise $16,000 to make Bryant Park Beach accessible and $7,000 to make Camp Petosega Beach accessible," reported Annie Campbell, Resource Development Manager at Disability Network. Both beaches were chosen based on requests by people with disabilities in Traverse City and Petoskey. "Local individuals and families have advocated for the projects. We plan to work at a grassroots level with those who are interested in making the beaches accessible," she said.
"This type of project is exactly what builds community," stated Laurie Gaetano, Parks Director of Emmet County. "It is the goal of Emmet County to provide exceptional recreation opportunities to all residents and visitors despite their ability, and the Beach Access Project will help us to achieve that goal," she said. The new beach pathway will enhance an already existing ADA walkway that stretches from the parking lot to the beach at Camp Petosega. "By extending this existing path, everyone will be able to access the lake together. This will enable family and friends to access and enjoy the beach together," Gaetano reported. Camp Petosega has ADA compliant campsites, restrooms, and showers. "We have also received a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to construct an ADA playground--which will include sensory play components and a swing that will accommodate wheelchairs. We anticipate construction to begin in 2014," shared Gaetano.
The purpose of Access for Everyone is to collaborate with community members to advocate for universal accessibility while providing solutions to break down barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in our community. "We hope to reach out to others who live in and travel to the region who are interested in helping us continue our efforts to make Northern Michigan a more inclusive, welcoming place, " stated Campbell. Through Access for Everyone, Disability Network has raised funds to make three beaches accessible, and also developed a partnership with the State Theater to make it accessible to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or have low vision.
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