May 20, 2014
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service in partnership with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, hosted an expo at Fanning Springs State Park recently to increase awareness about accessibility and recreation in parks.
More than 400 people attended the event for people with disabilities, which was sponsored through partnerships with Special Olympics, The ARC of Levy County, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology, The National Spinal Cord Injury Association of Central Florida, Levy County Commission and Levy County Transit.
“We strive to offer outdoor recreation to everyone,” said Donald Forgione, director of the Florida Park Service. “These events allow people to experiment with a variety of accessible activities that allow them to fully enjoy Florida’s natural treasures.”
The event featured resource demonstrators, free dental screenings by Special Olympics, games and activities from Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, and food from various community organizations. Outdoor recreational opportunities included sit volleyball, ladder toss, disc golf, trail rides, parachute games, arts and crafts, and live music and dancing.
Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Barbara Palmer said, “The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service did an outstanding job ensuring that everyone who attended the Disability Expo at Fanning Springs had a great time. The event would not have been possible without the fabulous park rangers. Everyone left the Disability Expo with a smile.”
Florida’s state parks and state trails offer many opportunities for outdoor recreation. In Florida, visitors and residents find beaches, freshwater springs, lakes and rivers where swimming, canoeing, kayaking and fishing are very popular. Trails offer the opportunity for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Most state parks offer playgrounds where children can play and parents can sit in the shade to keep a watchful eye. Most parks also offer picnicking facilities with tables, barbecue grills and shelter.