Guide to Lawrence Loop aims to help people with reduced mobility navigate the city’s nature trails – The Lawrence Times

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A group of local people and organizations have collaborated to create a guide to the most accessible routes along the loop of the St. Lawrence.

People with reduced mobility may view nature trails as resources they cannot use because they might be difficult to navigate, said disability activist Dot Nary.

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“Equal access to recreation is an ongoing issue,” Nary said.

Point Nary

“There are already so many barriers to physical activity if you have difficulty walking or use a wheelchair or walker, so knowing where you can go to enjoy nature, exercise and don’t encountering obstacles is a huge advantage. [Lawrence] Loop is a wonderful resource.

The series of trails that make up the Laurentian Loop will stretch approximately 22 miles around the city when they are all connected this year. So far over 18 miles of the loop has been completed and used, but until recently there was no detailed guide on the best and safest ways to hike it.

The free brochure guide highlights the routes with the more modest hills so people know where the best access is. The aim is to encourage the use of the loop and allow people with disabilities or reduced mobility to see the loop as something they can use.

The brochure contains a map and describes five routes along the loop. Each route is classified as easy, moderate or difficult depending on how difficult it is to navigate.

City of Lawrence staff members were able to measure the slopes of the trails using special technology, which helped distinguish the flatter areas. A few residents who use wheelchairs have volunteered to test the trails and share their insights in the process.

The guide also indicates where people can find amenities such as parking, restrooms, water fountains, benches, and transit stops in each area.

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Older people experience functional limitations due to age, but Nary said this also comes with a decrease in necessary social interactions. This is especially true for towns like Lawrence which are often retirement destinations, which is why Nary is excited about completing the loop.

“That social time when you see other people is really important in reducing social isolation for older people,” Nary said.

Young people with disabilities will also benefit from the Loop brochure, Nary said, and all community members of all abilities have an interest.

“Accessibility is everyone’s business. For example, someone who doesn’t have mobility issues might enjoy a walk with a loved one who has mobility issues,” Nary said.

Nary and Chris Tilden, a board member of Friends of Lawrence Area Trails (FLAT) who helped write a grant application for the project, agree that access to recreation is a health issue and that people with reduced mobility continue to be disadvantaged in health care. .

“The focus is on our recognition that there are health disparities and that people with disabilities generally do not have access to the resources that enable them to be active, which is essential to good health. health,” Tilden said. “It is therefore important to ensure that all members of the community, including people with disabilities and reduced mobility, have easy access to these types of resources.

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The Douglas County Community Foundation in December 2020 awarded FLAT a LiveWell Community Wellness Grant $6,100 to fund the project. Tilden said all the partners met and started collecting data in 2021, finished the brochure last month and recently distributed the first copies.

Many organizations participated in the creation of the brochure, which is the first accessibility guide to outdoor recreation in Lawrence. Partners included FLAT, Great Plains ADA Center, University of Kansas Research & Training Center on Independent Living, LiveWell Douglas County and Independence Inc.

Nary said she appreciates the involvement of the community, and she believes the city is intentional in including the needs of people with disabilities and reduced mobility in its indoor and outdoor recreation centers.

Physical copies of the brochure can be found now at Independence Inc., the Douglas County Seniors Resource Center, the Lawrence Public Library and other locations to come. Brochure information has also been added throughout the Lawrence Loop website.

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Equity reporter Maya Hodison(her) can be reached at mhodison(at)lawrencekstimes(dot)com. Read more about his work for The Times here. Check out his staff biography here.

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