Breaking down barriers to outdoor fun
By Caroline Kellough
“The outdoors, a lot of times, is about freedom,” said Ed Bronsdon, the Executive Director of Outdoors for All, a Seattle-based, non-profit organization dedicated to bringing children and adults with disabilities into the outdoors.
The seeds of Outdoors for All were sewn at Snoqualmie Pass, when a group of volunteers calling themselves “Ski for All” taught 15 children with disabilities to ski. The volunteers soon expanded their vision to include activities ranging from white water rafting to rock climbing while maintaining a strong base in winter sports.
Now, with over 2,000 participants and 700 volunteers, Outdoors for All is a thriving organization with a growing niche. Their home base is at Magnuson Park in northeast Seattle along the shores of Lake Washington.
Over the next year Outdoors for All will be adding more programs, expanding its snow programs to Stevens Pass. From there, it seems the foundation will continue to grow, reaching hundreds more families with equal numbers of inspiring stories.
“Any time I think I’m having a challenging day,” said Bronsdon, “I think of the challenges our folks are dealing with and it makes me push on.” Outdoor adventure provides the perfect opportunity to practice perseverance, he added.
When asked what has changed the most for people with disabilities over the last five years Bronsdon was quick to respond with one word: awareness.
Furthermore, as technology progresses, the gap between abled and disabled is shrinking. With the booming success of the Paralympics, as well as inventions such as the mono ski and the recumbent trike, avid outdoor enthusiasts are realizing that the possibilities for those with disabilities are growing exponentially.
Outdoors for All Foundation is not just changing the way disabled children and adults interact with their environment. They are encouraging people with life-long challenges to find strength in the nature around them.
“The outdoors gives you a new perspective about life,” Bronsdon explained. “When you’re being active outdoors you feel better about yourself, about community. When you share that with someone else, it’s a transformation for everyone involved.”
Caroline Kellough is an aspiring adventurer. When she’s not busy planning the next great expedition, you can find her in Tacoma, day dreaming at her desk job. If you’d like to read more of her travel work, follow her at www.pacsafe.com/blog.