“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”
It is that time of year again when, like sleepy bears, we can emerge from our caves and enjoy the great outdoors. After vision loss, we tend to stay indoors and immobile, avoiding the discomforts of bright sun and unpredictable surroundings. Are you suffering from “nature-deficit- disorder?” Are you bored, craving fresh air and exercise? What you need is outdoor activity and perhaps a nature retreat. The good news is there are options for those with blindness and low vision!
There are plenty of safe ways to get outside, stretch your legs and flex your independence if you are visually impaired. With my wide brimmed hat and sunglasses, I take daily walks with my guide dog around my neighborhood. I hike local trails through scenic woods. I play in the dirt, planting pots of herbs and flowers. I vacation at national parks, where I can explore accessible trails and challenge myself in new environments. When I am engaged outside, I can feel my body relax; I breathe a bit deeper, my mind clears and my spirit is energized. So include a bit of nature-therapy in your plans for vacations and summer trips.
National Park Service Offers Free Access Pass
Did you know people with disabilities can get a free Access Pass for all federal recreation sites? You’ll just need a physician’s statement or other document to verify your disability. The pass gives the recipient and three adults free admission to national parks around the country, good for life. For details, or to find a recreation site, visit the National Park Service.
Hull Park Hosts Accessible Retreats, Programs and Events for the Blind
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
— John Muir
Recently, I discovered Hull Park and Retreat Center for the Blind and Low Vision in Sandy, Oregon. This stunning, 22-acre park, nestled at the foot of the Mt. Hood National Forest, was set aside in the 1960’s for use by the visually impaired community. Today, Hull Park hosts a variety of accessible programs and events. It is a unique place where blind and low vision individuals can enjoy complete independence, relax in a beautiful environment, develop new skills, foster lifelong friendships and even test their limits. There is something for adults of all ages, abilities and energy levels. Maybe there is an adventure waiting just for you!
Hull Park offers year-round educational, recreational and social opportunities for those with blindness and low vision. Highlights during August include week-long Adventure Retreats for adults with a range of activities from relaxed nature walks in the Gardens of Enchantment, river rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking and even extreme experiences such as bungee jumping and sky diving. Not so strenuous activities include a variety of fun workshops featuring sightless self- defense, archery, crafts, music and warm evenings by the outdoor fire pit. For individuals who are new to vision loss, the Living with Low Vision Seminars provide education, hope and support to all ages, including seniors with recent diagnosis of age related vision loss diseases.
There truly is something for everyone at Hull Park, where they promote safety, efficiency, dignity and fun in all they do. Mary Lee Turner, president of the Board, says “We want to help people overcome the challenges of sight loss and take back their lives. We will take anyone who has the courage to come!”
Spending Time in Nature is Therapeutic
Poets and explorers have written about the profound impact and restorative effects of spending time in nature. Even medical doctors acknowledge the health benefits of “nature therapy” and prescribe gardening, walking and hiking. As little as 5 minutes in a natural setting can lower your pulse, blood pressure and stress hormones. It promotes relaxation and mental clarity. This is naturopathy at its best! Everyone benefits from being outside, even the blind.
Ready for the Challenge?
What are you waiting for? Get out there and experience the benefits of nature and the adventures that await you at Hull Park. I will be there this summer and I can’t wait! Contact Hull Park and Retreat Center for the Blind and Low Vision at 503-668-6195 and visit the Hull Park for the Blind website to learn more.
“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.”
— Karle Wilson Baker