The Kaien Coastal Riders have been full speed ahead bringing the first TrailRider to Prince Rupert.
While Morgan Foisy and Jessie Gibson, the organizers behind the all-terrain adaptive wheelchair, haven’t started recruiting volunteers yet, they’ve been approached by people who are keen to get involved.
“To start out, even two volunteers would be great,” Foisy said. That’s the minimum required to use the equipment, which helps people of all abilities ride along any kind of trail.
“Down the road, we’re looking to get a few more so that when we go on bigger hikes or treks, we can switch out our volunteers,” the physical rehabilitation assistant said.
It’s a project the two healthcare professionals have been working on since spring 2017. Recently the Kaien Coastal Riders, which own and will operate the TrailRider, partnered with the Kaien Island Trail Enhancement and Recreation Society (KITEARS) who have taken on the equipment. Donors have also approached them with money for insurance — the last obstacle the gear faces before it can hit the ground.
“We’ve been so appreciative of all of the support and all of the contributions that have made this initiative even possible. It’s a bit of a dream come true, honestly,” Foisy said.
Once Foisy and Gibson get a quote for the insurance and raise the funds, the next step is training volunteers and finding a rider.
“The trail rides — whether they be around town, on the waterfront, Rushbrook Trail when it opens, Butze — it’s all about community and breaking down barriers,” Gibson said. “There might be the rider and a few Sherpas (volunteers), but then there can also be other people around who sub in or are just there to experience volunteering with someone with unique mobility. It’s really whoever wants to be there and what the rider wants.”
In their experience using TrailRiders in other areas of the province, Foisy and Gibson said the equipment and new-found accessibility can also inspire self-confidence. Often it’s an opportunity to go farther than some have been able to go before, and family members and friends like to join to share in the experience.
“It can be therapeutic for anybody to get outside in nature. We’re hoping they can benefit from being in nature and making them feel they have the confidence to get outside,” Foisy said.
Gibson said one of their goals is to help with “empowering them and empowering others to participate together, no matter what our abilities are.”
She added that the TrailRider is designed “for people who might really like the outdoors, but it’s not accessible to them.”
Foisy and Gibson hope to hit the trails as early as this spring. Interested volunteers or riders can email Kaien Coastal Riders at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.