Accessible Outdoor Activities for Kids With Disabilities

Sarasota's Parks and Recreation department is ensuring everyone can join in the fun.

By Allison Forsyth

Robert Martini pushes his son, Maverick, in the recently installed accessible swing seat at Siesta Beach.

For families with children who have disabilities, it can be difficult to find outdoor activities that accommodate their needs. Luckily, the Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources department has installed a number of fun, accessible features in local parks, making the outdoors easy for every kid to enjoy.

On Saturday, August 14, the county unveiled new ADA-compliant swings that allow ease of use for children with autism, physical disabilities and other impairments. More than $4,000 was donated to the parks department for this installation.

Find these swings on the playgrounds at Siesta Beach, Twin Lakes Park, Turtle Beach, South Lido Beach, North Jetty Beach, Caspersen Beach and Englewood Sports Complex.

Other accessible outdoor sites include paved and wheelchair-friendly trails at Island Park near Marina Jack, the Legacy Trail and Selby Gardens, which has ramps and an elevator in the Ann Goldstein Children's Rainforest Garden.

Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources held a dedication ceremony on Saturday, August 14 at Siesta Beach for the swings.

Another resource for families is the T-REC Coalition of Sarasota County. Eight local agencies work together to provide free recreational programming for children with disabilities. Monthly activities include sporting events, pool and beach parties, walks and more. To learn more, visit Sarasota County's website.

If you want to visit the beach, beach wheelchairs are offered at Lido, Siesta, Nokomis, Venice and Manasota. Visit the lifeguard stands at each public location to borrow one for free. Beach access mats, which allow regular wheelchairs to move across sand, are also available at Siesta and Venice beaches.

For a fully accessible park experience, visit Senator Bob Johnson's Landing in Venice, where you'll find a kayak launch, boardwalk and wildlife viewing path with ramps and wheelchair accessibility.

And if you're in need of resources, day programming and other therapeutic outlets for your child, Easterseals Southwest Florida can help.

"One of the great things about our community is that we are sensitive to other's needs, and we are trying to develop a list of services that reflect this," says Easterseals Southwest Florida's community engagement director Carrie Rasmussen. "Not only will children have a place to go for obvious things like treatment, but places in the community to have fun and live life."

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