HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – It’s a move to get those with disabilities out in nature, for exercise and camaraderie.
“The message is you can go out and enjoy yourself,” said Catherine Sullivan DeCarlo of Chapel Haven Schleifer Center.
A recent hiking excursion is the result of a partnership between the center and a New York-based group called Accessibility Accelerator, committed to making the world accessible.
“Everybody here wants to do what everybody else does and there’s no reason they shouldn’t,” said Executive Director, Jamie Lassner.
The incredible organization recently took a group of 27, including four people with paraplegia, to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Lassner has also traveled to Ukraine to help those with disabilities flee the war safely.
“People are being mishandled from trains to three miles away to the refugee center,” said Lassner.
That’s where this all-terrain wheelchair comes in, used for all of those important missions. It was also used at the recent hike at Lake Wintergreen in Hamden.
It was created by Omer Zur, in honor of his dad who was severely injured but still wanted to hike.
“We don’t look at what is hard or steep, we just look at what’s safe and not safe,” said Zur.
13-year-old Colton Robinson got a chance to see what this chair, by Paratrek, can really do. And he described his experience as amazing.
“It makes people feel inspired about their own disabilities,” he noted.
Now, more outings are in the works.
“To be frank, we’ve laughed together and we have cried together, it’s been an incredible ride,” said Lassner.
The residents at Chapel Haven Schleifer Center would also love to climb Mount Kilimanjaro someday, they said.