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Organization offers New Year's hike for disabled

Every year on New Year's Day, state parks around the country offer a program called "First Day Hikes" that encourage people to get outside and be active on the first day of the new year. This year those with disabilities will be encouraged to participate, as well, thanks to a nation-wide organization named Team River Runner (TRR). TRR works to make adaptations to boats and gear to accommodate physical disabilities and to provide guides and/or adapted instruction for disabilities such as visual or mental impairments.
"TRR was originally created for veterans with disabilities, but we also welcome any person with a disability, and family members are also invited for some events," says Jodie Jones, the TRR Charlotte-area coordinator.
"In the summer months we concentrate on kayaking in leisure-type flat water or more challenging white water situations. We plan trips and provide the boats, gear and instruction."
Since the chapter is not prepared for winter kayaking, TRR organizers decided to turn to hiking as a cold-weather alternative. This year, the Charlotte TRR is offering a New Year's Day Challenge Hike at Crowder's Mountain State Park, 522 Park Office Lane, Kings Mountain.
"This hike will be difficult for some people - it is a 4-mile trek with very steep inclines," says Jones. "But I have lined up myself and two other volunteers for this hike. We can help people who are visually or hearing impaired or who have other mild physical disabilities. We can also help those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Basically we can help anyone who would need to take breaks or have the pace adjusted."
Jones says she can also provide hiking poles for those who might need the extra support/ balance.
"Our guides and accommodations for those with disabilities will be arranged ahead of time, so we do ask that people let us know if they would like to participate so that we can plan accordingly," says Jones.
If you are interested in TRR's services but just can't make the New Year's Challenge Hike, the organization has a number of other upcoming opportunities. A series of hikes has been planned at Charlotte's Latta Plantation on Saturdays in January, February and March. Jones is also planning some indoor kayaking at the Lowes YMCA in Mooresville, NC. For more information about these and other upcoming opportunities, contact Jones at jodie.jones@teamriverrunner.org.
"We really hope folks will join us," says Jones. "We sometimes have trouble finding people that we can serve, but we know that there are a lot of people out there who would benefit from the activities that we offer. We ask that anyone who is interested please contact us so we can help them get active again."

By April Hoyle Shauf, Special to Community First Media

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