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Beyond Accessibility: Sharing Inclusive Summer Activities for All Abilities


PCIL Beyond Accessibility: Sharing Inclusive Summer Activities for All Abilities, boy in wheelchair on a dock on a river with his hands up in the air for joy

Summer is a season brimming with fun and opportunities, but finding activities that are inclusive for people with disabilities can sometimes be challenging for individuals, caregivers, and families. Our team at Progressive Center for Independent Living, a leading organization serving residents with disabilities in Mercer, Hunterdon, and Somerset counties, has compiled a list of inclusive summer activities that everyone can enjoy. From exciting recreational events to valuable local resources, we’ve gathered some recommendations to help in creating a summer filled with fun for all abilities! Please note: This list is not exhaustive, and you know your abilities best so be sure to exercise proper caution and consult with professionals before trying any new activity. We invite you to comment on the post below and share your suggestions with our community!


ADAPTIVE SWIMMING

Nothing beats the summer heat better than a refreshing water activity! Many different organizations in the Mercer, Hunterdon, and Somerset counties in NJ offer adaptive swim lessons. These lessons often offer tailored instruction and support for individuals with a wide variety of abilities. Robert Wood Johnson Fitness and Wellness Center in New Brunswick, NJ is equipped to provide accessible swimming and even aquatic exercise instruction. The YMCA is another organization that offers adaptive swimming through their Diverse Abilities Swim Program which focuses on water safety and swimming skills. Depending on which organization you're interested in, you may be able to utilize your Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) budget to pay for the memberships, classes, or one-on-one trainers. From beginners to experienced swimmers, there's a place for everyone to dive in! If you’re interested in some swimming classes this summer, it may be a good time to reach out to your Support Coordinator to see if you can be connected with one near you! 


woman in wheelchair on the beach reaching down to touch the water

BEACH FUN

New Jersey is popular for their beaches and boardwalks and many of them are now handicap accessible. Some of the things that create a mobility friendly beach includes wheelchair-accessible entrance/exit ramps, beach mats that extend from the boardwalk to the sand, accessible restrooms, beach wheelchairs available for rent, etc. The most mobility-friendly beaches in NJ include Asbury Park, Cape May, Ocean City, Sea Isle City, and Atlantic City. If you’re in the mood to visit a nice boardwalk, check out Fisherman’s Cove with accessible ramps, or Jenkinson’s boardwalk. Jenkinson’s boardwalk includes rides, an arcade, mini-golf, etc. and has an accessibility guide that can support you with a wheelchair rental this summer!


JOIN A TEAM

In Mercer County, embrace the spirit of inclusivity at the Special Olympics gym in Lawrenceville, NJ, where individuals of all abilities come together to engage in fitness and community. The Special Olympics of New Jersey offers a variety of sports teams that are designed for individuals with disabilities, as well as a gym that can be used for exercise.



mercer county spray park with colorful structures spraying water on a bright sunny day


SPLASH PAD

For those seeking a more relaxed water experience, consider visiting Mercer County's Spray Park, offering a wheelchair-friendly environment with interactive water features. It is located at Mercer County Park and features a shade structure with tables and a variety of sprinklers and sprayers. Admission is free, but tickets are required due to the 60 person capacity limit. Each ticket holder will be given a 45 minute access to the spray park.


OUTDOOR EXPLORATION

Venture outdoors and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at New Jersey's picturesque parks. From leisurely picnics to accessible hikes, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Explore the scenic trails of Mercer County Community Park, where opportunities for recreation arise each week. Attend events and festivals held within the park, fostering a sense of community and connection among participants. Mercer County Community Park is a well known park that has many sections to include an accessible walking path, a lake, picnic tables, etc. Other parks in the Mercer area include Colonial Lane park, and Veterans park. It’s a good idea to get some fresh outdoor air and get some vitamin D this summer while it’s around!


girl in wheelchair on a trail in a garden with lots of trees and plants

Not only is it a great activity to visit parks, but many parks have accessible walking trails as well if you’re interested in going on a short hike. In Hunterdon County, individuals have the option to embark on a journey of discovery at the Hunterdon County Arboretum, where walking trails and serene lakes await. This includes 6 accessible walking trails, and occasionally has recreation events for the community to enjoy. Other parks that are worth visiting in Hunterdon county include Flemington Borough Park, and Round Valley Recreation area. Experience the unique blend of beach and park at Round Valley Recreation Area, offering a perfect retreat for outdoor enthusiasts.


At PCIL, we believe in the importance of bettering ourselves through physical and mental health. That’s why we believe it’s important to get outdoors and get some vitamin D. In the past, we’ve held “Nature Walk” recreation events, where some of the members of our community came out to join us in taking a walk together. In doing this, we all went at a slow pace down the trail and opened up to some deep conversations. Our conversations ended up being the highlight of everyone’s day and we got some great exercise out of it. It didn’t cost anything that day to bring a smile to everyone's face, and we’re ecstatic for our future outdoor recreation events!


MUSEUMS

Another fun way to spend your summer is by checking out some local museums. Dive into the realm of art, history, and culture by visiting local museums that celebrate diversity and inclusion. Take a stroll through the captivating Grounds for Sculpture museum in Mercer County, where outdoor art installations fascinate visitors to explore and engage with their surroundings. Grounds for Sculpture has an accessible main path made of paver stone. They also offer Electronic Convenience Vehicle (ECV) and wheelchairs rentals, allow personal-aids/supports staff free of charge, offer mobile and touch tours, and so much more inclusive features. Discover hidden treasures and exhibits that inspire curiosity and ignite imagination. Whether you’re gathering a couple of friends, or going by yourself, a museum is an experience where you can learn and enjoy.


women with a walker standing in a trail with others people in the background

FARMER'S MARKETS

Indulge in the flavors of summer at vibrant farmer's markets showcasing locally sourced produce and artisanal delights. A farmer’s market is a great place to check out a range of local produce, plants, and even local crafters. A farmer’s market is also a great way to get involved in your local community and is typically accessible for wheelchairs.


One of our favorites is the Trenton Farmers Market, located at 960 Spruce St, Lawrence Township, NJ, where you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, and specialty foods, supporting local growers and producers, including vegan shops and amish markets! We recommend this accessible farmer's market as it includes accessible wheelchair ramps and pathways to guide you through the local vendors.


Another well known market is the Robbinsville Farmers Market, located at 66 Sharon Rd, Robbinsville Twp, NJ, featuring family-friendly activities and welcoming atmosphere for all to enjoy. Robbinsville Farmers Market can be a memorable experience for the whole family including Touch-a-Truck, pet day, music and more. This great outdoor pop-up allows easy navigation for wheelchairs as well! 


SUMMER CAMPS

There are many different summer camps available that offer accessible options. For example, the Special Olympics offers Camp Shriver with activities centered around fitness, wellness, sports, fun, and learning. Checkout all our camp ideas from our blog post "Unlocking Summer Joy: 6 Tips to Maximizing Our Campership Scholarship Program " where we discuss many camp options to consider!


woman in wheelchair getting her caricature drawn by local female artist. There are other people in the background enjoying good weather.

PCIL SUMMER EVENTS

At PCIL, we recognize the importance of fostering connections and promoting social inclusion through our recreation events. Participating in community engagement, making connections and socializing is part of what makes our community so connected and special. Each month, we like to offer recreation events at different locations around our community to have a platform for our community members to show up and get involved. Join us for our annual Trenton Thunder baseball game, embrace the spirit of friendly competition at our Annual Softball game, and discover new friendships at our Annual Picnic each summer. Our community members as well as our staff look forward to coming to these events as they are a great way to spend your summer and your time getting involved and making new friends. Everyone is welcome in creating lasting memories and forging meaningful friendships as we come together to celebrate the spirit of summer.


For more information on PCIL's recreation events and resources, visit our website: https://www.pcil.org/events or call our receptionist at 609-581-4500 ext 110.



WE WISH YOU A FUN, HAPPY, AND INCLUSIVE SUMMER

As you embark on your summer journey, remember that PCIL is here to support you every step of the way. From providing information on accessible resources to hosting engaging recreation events, we're dedicated to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to unlock the joy of summer and create memories that will last a lifetime.


What do you like to do that is fun and inclusive?

Please share with our readers your ideas below!



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