Get out: Accessible recreation for everyone
My LEGO guy is in my pocket so I feel brave and strong on my horse, like Superman! I play ‘around-the-world’ and it makes me strong because I’m doing strong things that nobody can do except me,” Bodhi Bhattarai said.
Bodhi attends UpReach Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Goffstown and Back in the Saddle Equine Therapy Center in Hopkinton for hippotherapy — using horseback riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment.
Thanks to inclusive places and programs such as UpReach and BITS, Bodhi has grown from a hesitant participant to a playful rider whose strength and stamina continue to progress while he does something that he enjoys and empowers him.
“Riding a horsey is my favorite thing! Or playing LEGOs … yeah, that too,” Bodhi said.
Being able to access the things you like to do and have fun contributes to a good quality of life. People with disabilities and their families need to be able to explore and experience their communities. Accessing the front door to a place and fully participating in activities that you love are necessary for everyone.
Luckily, opportunities for accessible recreation have increased in recent years and New Hampshire is becoming a leader in offering accessible recreation to everyone, everything from sensory-friendly movie times to having access to the outdoors to different ways to travel.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s Exploring Our Way program in Dover is designed for kids on the autism spectrum and their families so they can enjoy the museum just like everyone else.
It is held once a month on a Sunday morning when the museum is quieter. A participant said, “This is wonderful! I can’t begin to express what a positive experience it has been for our son. We had tried many times to bring him to the museum during normal hours, but it proved unsuccessful time and time again. This program allows him to enjoy the museum just as his typically developing peers do, and I cannot thank them enough for making it happen.”
Paula Rais, Vice President of Development & Community Education for the Museum, said the Exploring Our Way program lets families see what it is like and get comfortable at the museum so they can possibly transition to coming on another day.
If yoga is more your thing, Yoga in Action, formerly known as SATYA, Seacoast Area Teachers of Yoga in Action, is a yoga network in the Seacoast area that offers accessible and inclusive yoga classes for all abilities.
A father of a participant says his son “…can participate in (yoga) successfully. He loves being with his friends and peers. They not only motivate him to move but he sees how they participate despite their own limitations, which models for him that he can do it, too.”
Northeast Passage, Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country and Crotched Mountain Accessible Recreation & Sports make outdoor sports such as skiing, cycling and kayaking accessible to everyone. Northeast Passage also offers adaptive equipment rentals so you can go where you want and when you want to experience the outdoors. You can also participate in indoor activities such as adaptive climbing and tennis. The possibilities are endless with accessible recreation.
Where to find accessible recreation in New Hampshire
Compiled by Sarah Ahearn
- Bookshare: www.bookshare.org/cms
- Children’s Museum – Dover (including Exploring Our Way program): www.childrens-museum.org/visit/accessibility
- Cinemagic Theaters: www.cinemagicmovies.com/page/3588/Sensory-and-Family-Friendly-Showings-Showtimes
- Currier Museum, Manchester: www.currier.org/visit/accessibility
- Main Street Art, Newfields: www.mainstreetart.org
- National Library Service for the blind and physically handicapped at the Library of Congress: www.loc.gov/nls
- O’Neil Cinemas, Epping: www.oneilcinemas.com/epping-nh/programs/sensoryfriendly
- Peterborough Players, Peterborough: www.peterboroughplayers.org
- Red River Theatre, Concord: www.redrivertheatres.org
- Talking Book Services, NH State Library, Concord: www.nh.gov/nhsl/talking-books
- Sonatina Center, Dover: www.thesonatinacenter.com
- Studio 550, Manchester: www.550arts.com
- Adaptive Sports, Franconia: www.adaptivesportspartners.org
- Athletes Roll: www.athletesroll.com
- Atlantic Gym, Dover & Portsmouth: www.atlanticgym.com
- Camping with a Disability: www.camprec.org
- Crotched Mountain Accessible Recreation & Sports, Greenfield: www.crotchedmountain.org/programs-and-services/accessible-recreation/accessible-trails
- Disabled Hikers: www.disabledhikers.com
- Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge – Boardwalk hike: www.fws.gov/refuge/Great_Bay
- Hampton Beach: Beach wheelchairs available at Seashell Pavilion at Lifeguard First Aid Station, call 227-8722; first-come, first-served
- National Parks Access Pass: www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/pass.htm
- Nature Conservancy – Ossipee Pine Barrens Accessible Trail: www.nature.org
- New England Disabled Sports: www.nedisabledsports.org
- Northeast Passage, Durham: www.nepassage.org
- Northern NH’s accessible trails: www.upstatenh.com/Recreation/Handicapped-Accessible-Trails-in-Northern-NH.html
- Trail Access Project: www.accessibleparks.org
- Surfing With Smiles: www.surfingwithsmiles.com
- Abilities.com – Resources on inclusive recreation: www.abilities.com/community/inclusive-recreation.html
- Back In The Saddle Equine Therapy Center, Hopkinton: www.bitsetc.org
- Chuckster’s, Hooksett: www.chucksters-hooksett.com
- Conway Scenic Railroad for Children on the Spectrum, North Conway: www.conwayscenic.com/blog/sensory-friendly-fridays
- Friends in Action, Durham: www.friendsinactionnh.org
- Nashua’s Legacy Playground, Nashua: Find on Facebook
- Planet Fitness, various locations: www.planetfitness.com
- Storyland’s Sensory-Friendly weekends: www.storylandnh.com/sensoryfriendlyinfo
- UpReach Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Goffstown: www.upreachtec.org
- Yoga in Action, Greenland: www.yogainaction.org
- Autism Travel: www.autismtravel.com
- Curb Free with Cory: www.autismontheseas.com
- Disabled World: Travel tips for those with disability: www.disabled-world.com/travel/air-lines
- Mobility International: www.miusa.org/plan/americans-abroad
- Spin The Globe: www.spintheglobe.net
- Trip Buzz: www.tripbuzz.com/wheelchair-accessible-travel-guide
- Wheelchairtravel.org: www.wheelchairtravel.org
- Wheelchairtraveling.com: www.wheelchairtraveling.com