Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

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Northern Michigan ups its Adaptive Recreation

Ross Boissoneau - April 7th, 2014  

Slowly but surely, Northern Michigan is improving its adaptive recreation scope. Miles of trails, adaptive skiing and sailing, and more mobility mats at beaches are giving people of all abilities access to outdoor fun.

ADAPTIVE SAILING

Barb Hutchens is a member of the board of Disability Network Northern Michigan and a volunteer at Traverse Area Community Sailing (TACS). For years, she’s been instrumental in developing adaptive sailing programs for enthusiastic sailors of all ages.

“The challenges are community awareness, to help people understand that we all don’t have access that able-bodied persons do,” said Hutchens.

TACS’ equipment is specially designed with a joystick, accessible dock, and a lift to help put people in the boat.

Hutchens said adaptive sailing helps persons with nearly any type of disability, whether cognitive or physical.

“We had a woman with a brain injury, and [after sailing] it was the first time she could remember anything about her past. She had sailed before her accident,” she said. “Children with autism find it soothing – there’s a therapeutic effect to being on the water.”

‘WHO THE HELL AM I TO TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN’T SKI?’

Paul Derby of Cadillac suffers from spina bifida, a birth defect in which vertebrae around the spinal cord do not fully form. Typically it leads to leg weakness, paralysis, and/or hip dislocation or scoliosis.

He grew up skiing, but as his condition worsened he was unable to join his family on the slopes.

“I can’t describe what it was like, watching my family ski without me,” he said.

His parents then took him to the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Colorado.

“They said, ‘You will take lessons.’ I said, ‘Yes, I will,’” he said with a laugh.

He worked out to build up his muscles, then visited his neurosurgeon, who suffered from the same affliction, to get permission for the trip.

“She said, ‘They said I’d never be a neurosurgeon.

Who the hell am I to tell you that you can’t ski?’” he said.

Derby is now comfortable on the slopes, as well as being an advocate for others with disabilities.

“Every time I’m out there it means something to me,” he said. “People come up to me, ask me about my equipment. They say thanks for being out here.

“I ski because I enjoy it. But I also ski to show everyone it can be done.”

Derby is also active on the water in the summer. “Another passion of mine is sailing,” he said. But unlike the specially equipped boats used at TACS, he still sails on his family’s boat.

“I’ve found different ways to get around,” he said.

“The adaptation there is in my mind, finding different ways to safely do things on the boat.”

MORE MOBILITY MATS COMING

Mobility mats and beach pathways are solid surfaces installed on beaches. They are designed to enable people in wheelchairs or using walkers and baby strollers to get close to the water.

There are several mobi mats in the region, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Clinch Park in Traverse City, Traverse City State Park, Whiting Park in Boyne City, and Petoskey State Park.

Annie Campbell, the director of development of Disability Network Northern Michigan, said those efforts are continuing.

“We hope to raise money by the end of spring to have Bryant Park in Traverse City and Camp Petosega in Alanson accessible through the purchase of beach pathways,” she said.

The success of the program has other parks planning their own, Campbell said.

“A number of different parks have contacted us asking for our input,” she said. “They’re planning on putting in accessible beach and kayak launches.”

ACCESSIBLE TRAILS

Solid surface hiking trails also enable everyone to enjoy the outdoors together. The TART trail, Little Traverse Wheelway, and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail all provide access for those who wish to walk, run, or use wheeled conveyances.

“TART allows walking, wheelchairs, and hand cycling,” Campbell said. “[It] is one of my favorite parts of Grand Traverse County.”

Programs through schools, at the YMCA, and Northern Michigan Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program through Munson Healthcare’s Physical Rehabilitation Services also offer additional opportunities.

Though advocates say more can be done and needs to be done, improvements continue to be made. Northern Michigan is becoming an accessible vacation and recreation destination, whatever the season.

Petoskey’s Challenge Mountain Offers Year-Round Programs

In 1982, founder Darla Evans took her daughter Chrisi to the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colo. Chrisi had been confined to a wheelchair due to numerous birth defects.

By the end of the week, the five-year-old was skiing with special equipment adapted to her needs. Rather than accepting payment, the director of the program elicited a promise from Darla that she return to Michigan and begin a similar program.

And she did. Today Challenge Mountain offers year-round programs in sailing, kayaking, fishing, biking, and maple sap gathering.

“It’s a safe, comfortable environment for families,” said Elizabeth Gertz Looze, the executive director.

 
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