Today I Learned: Track Chairs are Making Minnesota State Parks More Accessible
Being out in nature is a much-loved activity and beneficial to people’s physical and mental health. The United States has close to 1,000 National and State Parks, but wheelchair users and people with Adaptive mobility needs are too often excluded from the adventure and beauty they have to offer. Parks around the country are rolling out ways to improve accessibility, including Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ new track chair initiative.
Track chairs are all-terrain, electric powered chairs. They’re designed to trek up and down hills, through mud, dirt, gravel. open fields, as well as through shallow water and snow. They can travel up to seven miles an hour and over five hours on a single charge allowing users to access terrain a typical electric chair couldn’t handle.
Credit: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
As of June 2022, track chairs are available at six of Minnesota’s state parks. The chairs are free to use on designated trails with a state park pass and quick call to make a reservation.
“Being in the [all-terrain] chair within a couple of minutes you really gain an understanding of what it’s like to have your body go places that it has never been able to go before,” said Brittanie Wilson with the Minnesota Council on Disability in a recent interview.
Credit: MPR News
Minnesota’s DNR is monitoring feedback about the initiative, and if the program proves to be popular, Minnesota will consider expanding availability to more state park locations. Today, the “Action Track Chair” is available for public use in 22 states, with more to come in the next few years. Check out SpinalCord.com’s list to see if track chairs are available in your state yet- and hit those trails Adaptive Community!