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STRIDE’s Forward in a COVID World - New Hiking Club for People with Disabilities



Using the great outdoors is the safest option for fitness programs with socialization components. A new hiking club from STRIDE Adaptive Sports will get homebound people with disabilities back outdoors and safely enjoying some much needed exercise. According to STRIDE’s Program director, Megan Evans, STRIDE’s adaptive hiking club will open in October, giving people with special needs the chance to enjoy the region’s rich hiking culture.

“There are well over 100 different trails here in the Capital Region for people to enjoy,” explains Evans. “STRIDE has been designing ways to safely get isolated athletes with disabilities back to play and socialization, and hiking stood out as an activity that could support the group format we need to keep everyone safe. We examined the ‘46er’ tradition of hiking all of the Adirondack Mountain peaks, and how people can get books that bring the hikes together into a collection of trails with a passport checklist to complete. The new hiking program will present a similar collection of Capital Region trails to people with disabilities on a smaller scale, with a circuit of 5 group trips in the Berkshires and Capital region, with consideration of wheelchair users. Supplementary individual hikes for participants that want to go above and beyond will be included on the passport, with prizes for those who hike all the recommended trails.  It should be fun for our athletes to ‘collect’ these wonderful outdoor experiences and have something positive to be proud of during today’s trying times.”

STRIDE Program Director, Megan Evans, adds that the fall hiking club will support STRIDE’s philosophy of year-round activity as a healthy lifestyle for people with disabilities. “This summer, we held a virtual 5K run, walk, and hand cycle roll. Hiking will be a perfect fall compliment that is equally accessible to both casual and more advanced adaptive athletes. After the hiking program concludes as we head into winter,, we will transition to a snowshoeing club to keep everyone’s momentum going throughout the winter,” said Evans. “COVID presents a challenge to people who like to play team sports, so STRIDE is placing a heavy emphasis on individual lifetime sport to keep people ‘in the game’ and hopefully give a positive boost to their morale and mental health. We worry about that a lot right now, and we are taking some great steps to help our disadvantaged and underserved population get through this.”

STRIDE is launching seven “Return to Play” programs for the fall, and winter programs are currently being planned. For more information on STRIDE’s adaptive hiking club or other sports programs for people with disabilities, visit https://www.stride.org or contact Megan Evans, Program Director, at 518-598-1279, [email protected].

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