A unique online resource for children with autism is being trialled by Parks Victoria. Believed to be a ‘first’ for a park, this online resource gives families, carers and teachers an illustration of the program of activities children with autism can experience in preparation for their visit to the park. “The idea is to help introduce the activities with a series of visual prompts to familiarise children with their surroundings and make it more enjoyable,” Parks Victoria access coordinator, John Kenwright, told F2L. The resource can be downloaded from the website and the order of the pictures changed to help families and teachers develop their own storybook, he said. The new online project will be trialled in May at Brimbank Park, Melbourne.
Another recent initiative proving to be popular involves an expansion to Park Victoria’s range of wheelchairs at Wilsons Promontory that now includes a self-propelled all-terrain beach model. The Lasher beach wheelchair is suited to sandy areas, semi-rough tracks and water where conventional wheelchairs cannot go. The purpose-built, lightweight chair can be operated independently by people with paraplegia and leg amputations without the help of a carer. Previously, people with significant physical disabilities or mobility limitations visiting Wilsons Promontory National Park had the use of a motorised TrailRider and a range of beach wheelchairs but these offered limited access and cannot be operated without assistance.
Those wanting to use the new beach wheelchair can book in advance and all disability equipment is provided free of charge. Users are required to sign a booking form accepting responsibility for any damage/injury resulting from use of the equipment.
Parks Victoria is also expanding its popular TrailRiders program that will give more people with disability the chance to explore Victoria’s park trails. “One of the biggest responses we get from visitors is that they were unaware that so many facilities for people with disability existed,” Kenwright said. Packages are available too for accommodation that provides electric high-low beds, personal hoists and other equipment on site.
For more information visit: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/visit/improving-park-access-for-all