Published On: June 28, 2022Categories: Program Spotlights, Technology Spotlight

Adaptive Recreation Grows in Wisconsin

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Options for Independent Living, a WisTech partner, is expanding Adaptive Adventures with funding from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the Administration for Community Living (ACL).

Four men, two in Action Trackchairs, one using a manual chair with Firefly attachment, on stands behind the others. All are smiling outdoors.
Action Trackchairs and a Firefly wheelchair attachment power happy explorers at a Northern Adventures event in Wisconsin.

“The ability to connect people with recreational adaptive equipment, events, and other people with shared lived experiences has been an incredible addition to our organization.”

Calvin Richtig, AT Specialist, Options for Independent Living

Last February, Options for Independent Living in Green Bay, a longstanding partner of WisTech (the Wisconsin AT Act Program), received a $25,000 “Direct Effect Quality of Life Grant” from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. At the recommendation of WisTech, Options applied for the grant to expand the recreation equipment offerings of the assistive technology (AT) short-term device loan program.

“Over the past few years, we have explored the community’s interest in adaptive recreation and found it to be an area of great interest due to a lack of opportunity and awareness,” explains Calvin Richtig, AT Specialist at Options.

It was funding that presented the biggest hurdle.

In response, Options partnered locally with individuals and organizations to raise money for an Action Trackchair and a Firefly electric scooter wheelchair attachment. These devices made such a dramatic difference for device borrowers that adapted recreation soon became a priority area for the expansion of the AT device loan program.

A boy rides an Action Trackchair in the woods.
The Action Trackchair bringing smiles in rural Wisconsin.

One eleven-year-old boy and his father borrowed the Action Trackchair for a camping and hiking expedition in rural Wisconsin, WisTech reported to AT3 Center. This trip was the first time the boy had fully accessed the outdoors without his father carrying him through the woods. He independently navigated hills, rocky terrain, and wet areas, ultimately traveling five miles over four hours on a Saturday. “The [Action Trackchair] is so important for our family. I cannot thank you enough for the work you are doing to change lives across our area,” his father wrote Options.

Now, with Reeve Foundation funding, Options has acquired an ICE Adventure HD 26RS Trike with power assist and a transport trailer. This supportive recumbent trike offers excellent stability and a foot-driven pedal system with five levels of electronic assist. “The trike can even pedal itself for up to thirty miles,” Richtig says. (The ICE website offers alluring videos of serene rides that appear to take place somewhere in the UK.)

An older adult peddling an ICE trike on a beautiful day.
A happy cyclist takes the ICE trike for a ride.

It’s remarkable to see these cutting-edge devices listed alongside playing card holders and fishing rod attachments on the WisTech AT4All device loan inventory. But there they are. In accordance with the goals of the AT Act, anyone can borrow equipment within the service area of their AT Act Program (at no cost or a nominal fee) and make an otherwise unachievable adventure possible in the great outdoors. (Options serves 17 counties in northeastern Wisconsin; WisTech partners with additional Centers for Independent Living to serve the rest of the state.)

Success stories are mounting. Although the program is in its infancy, Richtig says Options now provides 5-10 people each month a better way to get outside. One borrower biked over ten miles around the lake he’s lived on for fifteen years; he’d yet to exceed two miles using his standard recumbent trike. Another explored the forests and trails that he hadn’t accessed since the passing of his wife, twenty years prior. “That ride provided him with so many smiles and happy tears that he opted to purchase his own Trackchair,” Richtig says. Then there’s the man who developed a new routine using a Firefly on his manual wheelchair to ride ten miles alongside his teenage son. “A daredevil bond,” the man called it.

An Options trained AT professional sets up the equipment with each borrower. Safety equipment is provided and there’s an enclosed trailer that’s also available to borrow, so users can take the equipment wherever they want to achieve their recreation goals. Loan periods for this equipment are two weeks at a time.

“The ability to connect people with recreational adaptive equipment, events, and other people with shared lived experiences has been an incredible addition to our organization,” Richtig says. “Adaptive Adventures, with help from the Reeve Foundation, has been a way to expand our AT program and re-energize our organization, something we are always looking to do.”

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The AT3 Center, the Association of AT Act Programs (ATAP), and the Administration on Community Living (ACL) make no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this blog. The AT3 Center, ATAP, and ACL have not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device hereto referred.

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