Who Universally Accessible Trails Help
Everyone. Universally accessible trails are multigenerational, all-ability spaces that allow anyone and everyone to have access to nature. These spaces allow an entire family- from the oldest member to the youngest, to spend time outside together. They allow a friend group to recreate together, no matter if their abilities are different, or if some people use mobility devices. If you don't have any mobility concerns, these are just nice welcoming spaces that allow you to enjoy nature. Another name for these spaces is All Persons Trails, which is fitting because what these trails really mean is that they don't exclude people, anyone can enjoy them. They don't marginalize those with disabling conditions, or perpetuate the false idea that the outdoors is only for the able-bodied.
These spaces also offer important health benefits to higher-risk populations. People with limited mobility are at a significantly higher risk of stress-related illnesses than the portion of the population without limited mobility. We know that spending time in nature reduces stress and helps to improve health. Read more about the health benefits of unpaved nature spaces and why access to them is important here.
Examples Of Folks Who Could Benefit From Unpaved Universally Accessible Trails:
- People with limited mobility/balance issues
- People with disabling conditions and/or chronic illnesses
- People with blindness or low vision
- Families and caregivers with young children or strollers
- People with sensory sensitivities
- Those with chronic pain or joint deterioration
- People who have suffered brain injury
- People with invisible disabilities
That adds up to a significant number of people, 33-47% of Massachusetts' population! These numbers don't include people recovering from illness or injury, who may need more accessible spaces during their recovery.
The bottom line is that everyone can use universally accessible trails.
4 Ways You Can Help:
2. Get Emails To Stay Informed About Progress. Sign up for email updates here.
3. Contact City Government and tell them you support adding universally accessible unpaved trails -
Here's a link to contact Northampton's City Councilors. Once at the city's website click the "contact" tab.