2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service, and as you can imagine there are a number of great celebrations planned throughout the year. But the wonders of our national parks are a treasure that far too many of us take for granted and one that, unfortunately, is out of reach for far too many Americans with disabilities. That’s something that outdoor lifestyle apparel company Toad&Co is trying to change with a recent grant that funds a program to send 1,000 adults with disabilities to ten different national parks in 2016.
The program is being run in conjunction with the National Park Foundation and Wilderness Inquiry and is being carried out across the country through Toad&Co’s Canoemobile van that will pull a fleet of Voyager canoes to a variety of parks, preserves, and monuments including Big Thicket National Preserve, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. By using the canoes to access areas of these national treasures, individuals with disabilities will have the opportunity to see and experience aspects of our natural world that might otherwise be inaccessible to them.
“The centennial celebration is about introducing America’s incredible national parks to everyone and we couldn’t be more proud to partner with Toad&Co and Wilderness Inquiry to inspire people with disabilities to find their park,” notes Susan Newton, senior vice president of grants & programs at the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. “Our National Park System has something for everyone and we are excited to help people discover accessible experiences that speak to their personal interests and passions.”
The grant is just one of the many ways that Toad&Co is working to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. For instance, back in 1997 it co-founded the Planet Access Company warehouse and distribution center as a way to help provide job training for people with disabilities. Then in 2001 Toad&Co established the Search for Adventure program to send adults from the PAC program on the adventure of a lifetime. These initiatives demonstrate the company’s commitment to continually finding new ways to make sure that people with disabilities have access to the kinds of opportunities that make all of our lives more rewarding.
“Employing adults with disabilities and connecting them to the outdoors is one of the most important things we do at Toad&Co and has been part of our mission since the beginning,” notes Gordon Seabury, Toad&Co founder. “Yet, for a multitude of reasons, adults with disabilities are often precluded from outdoor activities. This grant to the National Park Foundation aims to change that. The outdoors has given me so much. People with disabilities have the right to experience that same life-changing effect that the outdoors has had on me.”
To find out more about Toad&Co and to see how you can get involved with the Canoemobile tour click here.