Since 2017, the RAD Recreation Adapted Society has been empowering people with limited mobility to enjoy the great outdoors on their own terms. Thanks to support from the City of Langford, access to these services will be even easier.
Founded by Tanelle Bolt, an accessibility advocate and consultant who is paraplegic, RAD rents specialized equipment that enables activities such as golf, mountain biking, cycling, surfing or even beach fun for people who otherwise would not even dream of going anywhere but pull smooth pavement without the help of special facilities and helpers.
“Access to recreation is a human right as set out in (Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and there is little to no support for independent access,” Bolt said.
Their nonprofit organization is unique because it allows people to enjoy accessible outdoor recreation in complete independence, rather than having to go to a specialized facility, limiting where and when you can have fun.
RAD simply provides the gear, often with Bolt delivering it personally to wherever you are in British Columbia, or loading it onto a helijet if they have extra cargo space and flying in the right direction – the rest is up to you Customers.
It also offers a service that no one else offers, Bolt said. Aside from the basic rehabilitation people get after a traumatic injury, she said the only option is to try something like a paragolfer — a device that helps people stand upright so they can play conventional golf — them, for example teach you how to use a basic wheelchair to buy one for around $25,000.
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“I ended up in a $17,000 sit ski that I’m scared of and don’t ride anymore. It should be like borrowing hockey skates to play at the rink. You should be able to rent a sled or mountain trike the same way.”
RAD’s first-ever tool shed is slated to open on Langford Lake in the spring and will provide a physical location for accessible equipment rentals. Bolt hopes it will reduce the amount of travel required to get equipment to customers.
The shed also offers researchers the opportunity to collect data on the effectiveness of accessible devices and the positive impact they have on users. The hope is to spur much-needed investment in the space and the expansion of RAD, which Bolt envisions becoming a multi-site transmission franchise.
Langford Mayor Stew Young is excited that the tool shed is opening soon, noting that this is the result of several years of working with Bolt.
“It’s going to be a great thing for our community, and the work Tanelle has done to be a voice for accessibility has been amazing,” he said. “We’re trying to be the sports capital for everyone, so everyone has the opportunity to participate, and that means making things accessible.”
For Bolt, however, seeing the smiles on customers’ faces when they’re using the right equipment for them is enough to make all the work worthwhile.
“When I first sat on a handcycle for recovery, got an extra handcycle from my girlfriend’s underground garage in Vancouver, and we rode 13 kilometers that day, it was outstanding and I want to give that to people,” she said. “I want to give them their freedom back, give them freedom and independence that they might never have had, and I want to make sure they’re still in places with their circle of friends that they’re comfortable with.”
To support RAD’s work with a donation, learn more about the equipment on offer, or contact Bolt for consulting work on accessible design, visit radsociety.ca.
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AccessibilityCity of LangfordWest Shore