Access to the outdoors becomes a tremendous challenge when one is faced with physical challenges that make it difficult to get to the bathroom, let alone to get outside the house. It’s so important to overcome those obstacles and demand that sunshine and fresh air be a daily part of your routine.
Admittedly, 20 years after the fact, I can see that having been a caregiver for so many years of my life, I am conditioned to being homebound. The healthy approach is to access the outdoors and soak up all the delicious nutrients that are beyond the front door. If we live in a vacuum, we deprive ourselves of the richness of living. The life ingredients that come from outside experiences are what make me feel alive!
Start with the basics. Wheelchair ramps, patient lifts, accessible vans are tools that are available. Once you have those tools in place, you’ll need a road map! Allow me to suggest one of my favorite places!
Nestled along the California Coast about half-way between Santa Barbara and Malibu is a special park founded by WWII Veteran Ed Hunt called the Rehab Point Project. I don’t think we can give this man enough thanks and praise for bringing his vision of an accessible beach park to fruition.
Ed Hunt has left a lasting legacy for all of us to enjoy—especially if you use a wheelchair. Ed, who was a diabetic, was diagnosed at the age of 70 with blood pressure and heart problems. He suffered a stroke that hospitalized him for three months and left the entire left side of his body paralyzed.
During his recovery, Ed longed to visit the ocean. His friends and family literally had to carry him, wheelchair and all, to the water. That experience was the impetus for building a pathway to the ocean to provide access for people that use wheelchairs and walkers.
His vision, perseverance, and tenacity, coupled with the support of his friends and the City of Oxnard, was the foundation for “Rehab Point Project,” a nonprofit corporation. Ed personally contributed funds and solicited donations, enlisting the help of local contractors, the City of Oxnard and a U.S. Naval Construction Battalion.
In 1992 the Rehab Point Project was opened to the public with the construction of the first 70 feet of concrete pathway and a 20 foot oval pad. Today, the pathway is now 900 feet long!
Rehab Point is my favorite example of accessibility, but it’s not the only one out there. Check out the USDA Forest Service for options near you!
The path is located at Oxnard Beach Park, 1601 South Harbor Boulevard, Oxnard.(Between Wooley Road and Channel Islands Boulevard, adjacent to Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort). Nearest Bus Stop: SCAT Access