Outdoors for everyone [Editorial]

The Aegis

One of the better initiatives of Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and his administration has been to support programs that make outdoor activities available to a wider number of county residents.

In the past two years the administration worked with local nonprofits to make an accessible kayak launch to Deer Creek off Route 1, where a parking lot was also constructed so people no longer have to park on the shoulder of the busy highway.

More recently, the county has been working with the Harford Land Trust to preserve additional woodlands in the Forest Greens area and earlier this year it completed a “sensory trail” at Schucks Road Regional Park that gives children and adults an opportunity to experience nature and sensory stimulations simultaneously.

Last Friday, the Glassman administration concluded its second iCan Bike camp at the Churchville Recreation Center, where 31 residents with disabilities, whose ages range from 8 to 45, completed five days of learning how to ride a bicycle with the assistance of a group of trained instructors and many volunteers.

“Recreational skills, especially riding a bike, can often be difficult to master for individuals with disabilities,” said Rachel Harbin, manager of the Office of Disability Services, which sponsors the camp with support from the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Local Management Board. “Youth and adults who cannot ride a bike miss out on fun and friendships with their siblings and peers, community interaction, exercise and even job opportunities as they get older. We knew that this camp would provide a safe, supportive and fun environment for riders to gain confidence and build their skills.”

And the camp has done just that in a friendly, fun-filled environment. As one camper’s mother remarked about her daughter’s experience: “It’s been fun seeing all the different riders progress throughout the week. That’s been really rewarding.”

This year, one of the volunteer spotters was a graduate of the first iCan Bike Camp held last July. He and his mother returned to help out, something they said they just had to do, so others could experience the fun of mastering a new skill.

Each camper was paired with a volunteer from the community who assisted them and provided encouragement every day. The more than 50 volunteers bonded with riders, building relationships and raising awareness about the capabilities of those with disabilities in the community, according to a county news release. Many of the volunteers also participated in the 2017 camp. Among this year’s group were three players for the Aberdeen IronBirds.

Glassman and his administration continue to be true to the county executive’s own love of the outdoors and have found many innovative ways to impart that love to a wider group of county residents and visitors. We salute those efforts and look forward to many more successes like the iCan Bike Camp.

avought@theaegis.com

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