Northern Michigan in Focus: Wilderness State Park Now Handicap Accessible

For most people, going to a state park is fun and relaxing.

For others it can seem like one obstacle after another.

In this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus, Corey Adkins shows us what one group is doing to make our parks accessible to everyone.

“I like to swim I just want to get out and be able to get out with everybody,” says Faith Dunshee with Disability Network.

It’s something many people may not think about, simply getting into the lake. But what if you have a disability.

“For me it’s very important because I got tired of sitting on the sidelines. I mean once I’m with my friends I want to be with my friends and before this access for everyone campaign I was on the sidelines. My friends were in the water and I was on the beach or I was in the parking lot because I couldn’t get onto the sand,” Dunshee said.

What Faith is talking about is the Access for Every One campaign led by the Disability Network of Michigan. They’ve been raising money to make state parks easier to access for everyone and Wilderness State Park outside of Mackinaw City has just made some major improvements

“In doing so keeping with the ADA act we made sure everything met the standards. Percentage of handicapped accessible sites, the building is handicap accessible kind of all the walkways are set to ADA specifications and then we had to walk ways down to the beach working with Disabilities Network of Michigan.

And getting donations from our campers we were able to raise the funds to get the access mats to go from the end of the walkway all the way to the water’s edge and a floating chair for those folks who never had the experience of swimming in Lake Michigan and now have the experience of swimming in Lake Michigan.

“The chair floats and once you’re in the water the chair floats. Once it’s off the bottom of the lake it literally floats. I loved it. I had so much fun cause I’m like, I can finally get into the lake. I don’t have to go to a pool,” Dunshee said.

“From my perspective and my own point of view the things I love to do our outdoors and if I had an issue where I couldn’t get around that wouldn’t change that. I would still want to be outdoors in using Lake Michigan,” said Burr Mitchell,

Wilderness State Park supervisor.

“I’m excited because there’s going to be people here with their families it couldn’t have been here with their families before enjoying the space and being very comfortable in it and they’re not going to run into a bunch of challenges,” said Russ Knopp with Comfort Keepers.

Now everyone has the chance to enjoy our beautiful state. The new campground at Wilderness State Park opens June 20.

“We want to be included it’s an inclusion thing for us oh, we don’t want to be left out and that was the other reason I did it I just wanted to make everyone there included,” Dunshee said.


Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus