The province of Manitoba has recently increased accessibility at a variety of provincial parks and a local family says that is welcome news.

Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard made the announcement earlier this week. “Our provincial parks are designed for all Manitobans and we have made significant investments to improve their accessibility,”

With the inclusion of mobility mats at provincial park beaches, making hiking trails and buildings more accessible Guillemard noted the government’s support of National AccessAbility Week and Manitoba Access Awareness Week. ‘We want all park visitors to be comfortable and able to enjoy the great outdoors.”

Mobi-mats were added to local beaches in St Malo, Birds Hill, and Falcon Lake. Other updates include accessibility components being added to the playground structure at the playground at Brereton Lake.

Trail users will see further improvements, such as improvements in the works at the Cedar Bog Trail in Birds Hill Provincial Park. Boardwalk sections will be added this year to frequently wet areas, which may not make the trail fully accessible but will improve the general accessibility of the area, Guillemard noted.

Chrystie Kroeker Boggs and her family frequent Falcon Beach quite regularly and managing her daughter’s wheelchair through the sand is tiring. ‘that's always been a problem, getting to the water through the sand, and so this news for our family would be life-changing.’

‘We love going to the beach, and pushing a wheelchair in the sand is a very good workout.’ This is a game-changer according to Kroeker Boggs, as the older her daughter gets, she wants the independence to be able to wheel herself to the water.

Increasing accessibility creates freedom for those with disabilities, and Kroeker Boggs is appreciative of that inclusion, ‘wherever we can build and foster that independence is fantastic.’

Increasing accessibility makes a big impact on families that have to consider and make plans every time they go out. And as her daughter gets older and spends more time with friends, Kroeker Boggs has to map out how an outing will look.

Kroeker Boggs is thankful for the accessibility upgrades and says it’s a good start. In regards to accessibility, she has dreams to make access easier.  ‘My dream would be for there to be no stairs anywhere. Oftentimes you hear the term, she's bound to a wheelchair or she's forced to use a wheelchair. I would like people to think of it differently for us and for my daughter. Her wheelchair is freedom. She's not bound to it; her wheelchair is a great thing. She's bound to inaccessibility. So instead of thinking of it as the wheelchair as inhibiting, it's actually the stairs or the sand, that's what's inhibiting. It's not the wheelchair.’

Kroeker Boggs is hopeful for more accessibility for her daughter in the future, ‘the more accessible we can make the world, the more freedom she and others like her will have.’