by Steve Forsell
Are you familiar with our local non-profit known as NatureTrack? They provide cost-free outdoor field trips for Santa Barbara County school-aged children, utilizing local trails and beaches in Santa Barbara. They have a dedicated volunteer group of docents who share their knowledge and love of the outdoors with students from K-12. There is never a cost to schools, students, teachers or parents. They have been providing these outdoor experiences since 2011. Sue Eisaguirre is the Founder and Executive Director.
Their value to students in Santa Barbara County is enormous. However, today I want to talk about a recent meeting and hike that Janet Koed and I did with NatureTrack at Jalama Beach which did not include students. The purpose of our get together was to get a chance to see how their Freedom Trax devices worked for providing the power of navigation for wheelchair users. These devices provide the opportunity for wheelchair bound individuals who may never have had the chance to independently enjoy being on a beach or trail. The Freedom Trax devices attach to a manual wheelchair and allow access to areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. See attached photos. The devices are relatively light and can be easily transported.
Recently Janet and I met Sue and several of her docents and volunteers for a hike at Jalama Beach. It was a beautiful sunny day and we talked for a while about Gaviota Coast Conservancy. They are very interested in partnering with GCC on hikes on the Gaviota Coast. Then we experimented with the Freedom Trax. Janet was especially enthusiastic in operating one. A manual wheelchair was quickly transformed into a battery-powered all-terrain vehicle that traversed the beach sand and a short trail hike for one gentleman. We were able to see just how well these devices worked. Sue offered us the use of the Freedom Trax for hikes which GCC leads.
For more information go to the website for NatureTrack at naturetrack.org