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Blackstone Heritage Corridor Acquires Wheelchair Bicycle for Adaptive Recreation Programs

Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor has acquired a Van Raam OPair wheelchair bicycle to bring more adaptive recreation events to the Blackstone River Valley. On November 23, Bike-On delivered the bike where additional partners in the “Opening Doors the Outdoors” grant project, including All Out Adventures and Network of the National Library of Medicine, New England Region, gathered to celebrate. Pictured here are (back row, left to right): Suzanne Buchanan of Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor; Jackie Brown of All Out Adventures; Cory Plante, Alison Zack Darrell, and Vinnie Ortez of Bike-On; Devon Kurtz of Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor; (front row, left to right): Ellie Guild; and Susan Halpin of Network of the National Library of Medicine, New England Region.

 

Whitinsville, MA (November 24, 2020) -In its quest to continue providing adaptive recreation programs in the Blackstone River Valley, the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (BRVNHC) has acquired a state-of-the-art, electric-assist wheelchair bicycle. A grant received from the Network of the National Library of Medicine, New England Region (NNLM,) provided the funds to purchase a Van Raam OPair bicycle from Bike-On of Warwick, RI. BRVNHC is partnering with All Out Adventures of Northampton, MA, who will be caretakers of the bike, to offer adaptive cycling to people with mobility impairments and their caregivers in the Blackstone River Valley.

On November 23, all four organizations met at the Blackstone River Valley Heritage Center in Worcester, MA, so that Bike-On could deliver the equipment. A special test ride was arranged with Susan Halpin, Education and Outreach Coordinator at NNLM, and her mother, Ellie Guild.

“Being involved with the “Opening Doors to the Outdoors” grant awarded to the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor has been rewarding both personally and professionally for me,” Halpin shared. “I have always thought that social connection was important to overall good health. With COVID-19, the importance of being connected has become very apparent to me because I am missing that connection to my family, friends, and community. Those around us with physical and intellectual challenges experience the isolation many of us are feeling currently, all the time.”

According to Halpin, programs such as Opening Doors to the Outdoors and organizations like the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, All Out Adventures, and Bike-On, are addressing the need for inclusivity and for connection through opportunities that adaptive bicycles like the OPair provide. “In my experience, it’s not only the participants who receive those health benefits,” Halpin added. “Those who volunteer to make these events happen come away grateful for the opportunity to be involved. Giving my Mom a test ride on this new bike certainly showed that to me! Gratitude is essential to good health.”

Since 2017, BRVNHC has partnered with All Out Adventures to offer adaptive exercise programs in the Blackstone River Valley including adaptive cycling and adaptive kayaking. In 2019, adaptive kayaking events were made possible through a grant received from NNLM. Earlier this year, BRVNHC received an additional grant from NNLM to offer a series of adaptive cycling programs in partnership with All Out Adventures, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, those events could not be held. Instead, funds were used to acquire an adaptive bicycle that would provide additional programming opportunities in the spring of 2021.

“This bike will open doors and break down barriers, and we are thrilled to be able to use it in our programs,” noted Karen Foster, executive director of All Out Adventures. “At All Out Adventures we see time and again how providing access to outdoor recreation for people of all abilities has the power to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. The OPair Wheelchair Tandem will help us to extend the opportunity to participate in cycling to people with mobility impairments and their caregivers.”

Suzanne Buchanan, Volunteers-In-Parks Coordinator for BRVNHC, has been orchestrating the adaptive recreation events with All Out Adventures, utilizing the National Park Service Volunteers-In-Parks program. With nearly all events canceled this year due to COVID-19, Buchanan worked with NNLM to find the best use of the grant funds this year.

“This is an amazing opportunity during these unprecedented times,” Buchanan shared. “This adds more meaning during Thanksgiving week. We all have something to be thankful for.”

According to Buchanan, the adaptive cycling events will highlight the beautiful resources along the Blackstone River Bikeway while lifting people’s spirits as they enjoy the ride and fresh air.

“As a business serving the adaptive cycling community, we are thrilled to have such great champions of the Van Raam OPair wheelchair tandem as Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, All Out Adventures, and the Network of the National Library of Medicine,” noted Alison Zack Darrell, Business Development at Bike-On. “We’re very grateful to be part of this venture, and for the efforts on behalf of inclusive cycling, that the three organizations have made.”

To learn more about adaptive recreation events with BRVNHC, contact Suzanne Buchanan at sbuchanan@blackstoneheritagecorridor.org. To learn more about BRVNHC, visit BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.

PHOTO CAPTION: Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor has acquired a Van Raam OPair wheelchair bicycle to bring more adaptive recreation events to the Blackstone River Valley. On November 23, Bike-On delivered the bike where additional partners in the “Opening Doors the Outdoors” grant project, including All Out Adventures and Network of the National Library of Medicine, New England Region, gathered to celebrate. Pictured here are (back row, left to right): Suzanne Buchanan of Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor; Jackie Brown of All Out Adventures; Cory Plante, Alison Zack Darrell, and Vinnie Ortez of Bike-On; Devon Kurtz of Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor; (front row, left to right): Ellie Guild; and Susan Halpin of Network of the National Library of Medicine, New England Region.