Four Rivers GRIT Freedom Chair

Frequently asked questions

Four Rivers is an inclusive destination, connecting visitors to conservation through dynamic, educational programs, recreational opportunities, community engagement, and facility rentals for people of all abilities. This includes access to an adaptive all-terrain wheelchair that can be used on the preserve trails.

How does the GRIT Freedom Chair: Spartan Model work?

The easy-to-push, lever-driven wheelchair comes armed with rugged mountain bike wheels, a big, sturdy front wheel that doesn’t get stuck, and optional trail handles, allowing you to choose your adventure. Instead of grabbing onto the wheels directly, push the levers forward to propel yourself. To brake, pull them back until they touch the tires. There is a part that comes out perpendicularly from the lever, such that when you pull the levers backward beyond a certain angle, it engages with the tire and stops it. The brakes are also used for turning; braking one wheel rotates the chair in that direction. 

How do I reserve the GRIT chair?

The GRIT chair is available on a first come first served basis from the front desk of the Four Rivers Environmental Education Center. A person item (keys, etc.) is left at the front desk and is returned upon turning in the GRIT chair. To check on its availability you can call us at (815)-722-9470.

Can Forest Preserve staff assist with transferring into the chair?

Our staff can offer a hand or help hold chairs in place, but we cannot lift or move individuals. If you require assistance transferring into the GRIT chair, please bring a family member, friend, or caregiver.

Does the GRIT chair have a seatbelt?

Yes, the GRIT chair does have a seatbelt and should be worn at all times. The rider is responsible for their own safety and accepts all risks associated with using the GRIT chair. 

How do I know if the GRIT chair will work with my diagnosis?

People of all ages and abilities are using the GRIT chair to move beyond. There are GRIT riders with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, various joint conditions, amputations, cerebral palsy, and more. We recommend that all GRIT chair users confirm with their doctor their ability to use the chair before taking it out on the trails. 

Do I have to be a certain age or weight to use the GRIT chair?

A: GRITs oldest rider is 94 years young and their youngest is 3, so there is no minimum age you must be to check out one of our GRIT wheelchairs! We do require a signature from a parent or guardian for individuals under the age of 18 on our liability release. There is no minimum weight requirement, however, there is a maximum weight of 300 pounds on the GRIT chair.

Do I have to wear shoes?                                                                     

Yes, you must wear shoes at all times with the GRIT chair and use the foot strap. It is recommended that GRIT users wear closed-toed shoes. 

Do I have to wear a helmet?

It is recommended that you wear a helmet when using a GRIT chair. Depending on the terrain or weather conditions, there could be a possibility of tipping. If you wish to wear a helmet, please bring your own. 

How much strength do I need?

Pushing the levers is easier than pushing push-rims. GRIT has had several people who can't use push-rims who do great in the chair. You need some strength to push the levers forward and very little to pull back, as the backward stroke just ratchets and resets for the next stroke.  We recommend that all GRIT chair users confirm with their doctor their ability to use the chair before taking it out on the trails.

How much does the chair weigh?
46 pounds 

How do I get the GRIT chair to my desired trailhead?

The GRIT chair is only available for use at the McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove Preserve. It can be picked up at the Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, which allows direct access to all the trails at the Preserve. The chair must be returned to the Four Rivers Environmental Education Center by 3:30 pm.

What happens if I break the GRIT chair?

Normal wear and tear while using the chair appropriately is expected. If damage occurs to the chair while you are using it on a trail according to rules laid out by the preserve staff when checking out, there is no charge to you. However, if the chair is being used inappropriately or by a person other than the one who checked it out, you may be responsible for repairs or replacement. 

What are the dimensions of the seat pan?

18 inches wide 

What kind of cushion is on the GRIT chair?

The GRIT chair is equipped with a wheelchair-style comfort cushion. The cushion is not a pressure-relief cushion. If you choose to add cushions, please consult with a medical professional to see if this cushion is appropriate for you. Note: Adding or removing cushions will adjust your center of gravity, potentially increasing the risk of tipping.

Can I move backward in the GRIT chair?

You cannot move backward with the levers inserted. The GRIT chair is designed to prevent you from rolling backward during inclines. To move backward, remove one or both of the levers and pivot/reverse as desired. You can store the levers in the storage slots located at the rear sides of the seat pan.


The Forest Preserve District protects and enhances Will County’s natural and cultural resources for the benefit of current and future generations.


Bringing People and Nature Together

Guiding principles

  • Staying true to our purpose.
  • Being good stewards.
  • Connecting people and nature.
  • Focusing on wellness.
  • Working with others.
  • Promoting sustainability.