A new zipline course in Nova Scotia is allowing thrill-seeking wheelchair users to join in the fun of flying through the trees.
Officials at Ontree Fun and Adventure Park just outside Windsor, N.S., started designing the layout of the new course over a year ago and opened to wheelchair users June 1.
Owner Juergen Weigelt said when she started the zipline park 10 years ago, it was her dream to create an accessible course.
"So far, people just love it," said Weigelt. "We did not expect to get as many emails and phone calls as we've been getting."
The wheelchair course is slightly different from the many other zipline courses offered at the park, located next to Ski Martock.
Weigelt said the platforms built securely around the trees are three times larger and there are more safety pieces in place. A staff rescue guide is with the user the entire time they are on the course.
Erin Saari is a quadriplegic who lives in Halifax. She suffered an injury five years ago when she dove into a pool and struck her head.
Saari was an athletic person before her injury and is now into wheelchair racing. She said she's always looking for wheelchair-friendly recreational activities she can get involved in.
"I get out to see my family do a lot of things, but a lot of times I'm just a spectator," said Saari. "When I found out this was something I was actually going to be able to do myself, it was pretty exciting for me."
'Fly like a bird'
Saari recently gave the new wheelchair course a try and is giving it two thumbs up.
She said the ziplining was the best part, but manoeuvring around obstacles on the course was also enjoyable.
"I actually really enjoyed that part of it, which I didn't think I was going to," said Saari. "There are a lot of obstacles in this world already for wheelchair users, but they made it fun."
Feedback from users like Saari will inform any tweaks or changes that will need to be made to improve the wheelchair course. One big change is already being planned for the fall, with the addition of a 300-metre-long zipline.
"It will be the longest run in the entire park," said Weigelt. "The person in the wheelchair will be able to fly like a bird."
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