Top 5 Summer Activities for Wheelchair Users

Top 5 Summer Activities for Wheelchair Users
Credit: USA Adaptive Water Ski & Wake Sports Association. Pictured: Team USA’s Chuck Wesson, T10 Paraplegic

As the weather warms up, everyone is eager to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, the idea that those with limited mobility are unable to take part in summer activities is an unwarranted stereotype. Contrary to popular belief, there are many enjoyable, yet easily accessible outdoor activities for wheelchair users, caregivers, and their loved ones.

Here are UpLyft®’s top picks for some fun in the sun for those with limited mobility:

1. Exploring the Wilderness

Being surrounded by nature has been proven to reduce stress levels and release endorphins. One might think that wheelchair users would not be able to trek through the forest without tumbling over rocks or getting stuck in the mud, yet there are numerous wheelchair accessible trails throughout the U.S. In fact, most states have these specific trails listed on their respective government websites.

Another great resource is TrailLink. Their website can be accessed to search for wheelchair accessible trails by city or state, and their mobile app can be used to find options in your surrounding location. Their trails also feature pictures, reviews, and difficulty levels, in order to help you select the best option for you.

2. Horseback Riding

Another common misconception is that wheelchair users would not be able to live out their equestrian dreams, given the fact that horseback riding typically requires the use of one’s legs and feet to direct the horse. While this is not entirely false, there are companies who cater specifically to wheelchair users, providing modified saddles that allow a person with limited lower mobility to use their upper body in order to direct the horse. These companies also tend to offer solely guided tours (aka, a wheelchair user will not be able to roam off solo into the wild). Calling horseback riding businesses in your area is the best way to know whether they specialize in wheelchair-accessible rides, and to what extent.

3. Adaptive Water Sports

For those who live near any type of water source and experience excruciatingly hot summers, water sports can be very appealing. Many companies offer adaptive kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing and even water skiing. The USA Adaptive Water Ski & Wake Sports Association offers a list of partnering organizations across the U.S. that provide adaptive water skiing and wakeboarding options. Fishing and boating are also great alternatives, as most, if not all, docks and piers are wheelchair accessible.

4. Wine Tasting

Harvest season happens during the months of July and August, meaning that summer is the perfect time to book a winery tour. Wine tasting is a great way to spend some time outside, enjoying the beautiful countryside scenery, while sipping on a delicious homemade beverage. The vast majority of vineyards that offer tours are wheelchair accessible. Many will even cater specifically to those with limited mobility and offer private guided tours at no extra charge. When booking an appointment, it is ideal to mention that someone in your party utilizes a wheelchair in order for the winery to best accommodate your group for a tour.

5. Outdoor Events & Concerts

With many states re-opening businesses, outdoor events and concerts are slowly but surely reappearing. Eventbrite is a great resource to search for upcoming events in your area. They have partnered with risk management and health experts to make sure that the events listed on their website observe all COVID-19 protocols. You can also use Eventbrite to plan your own event, ensuring that everything is fully wheelchair accessible – whether it’s a small backyard concert or a fundraiser BBQ for a local charity.

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