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New all-terrain wheelchair available for public use at Four Rivers

An adaptive all-terrain wheelchair
(Photo by Jerome Gabriel)

An adaptive all-terrain wheelchair is now available for public use at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon. 

The new wheelchair, a GRIT Freedom Chair – Spartan Model, can be used by people of all ages and those with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, joint conditions, amputations, cerebral palsy and more, according to Medford, Mass.-based GRIT. 

The GRIT chair can be checked out at the front desk at Four Rivers on a first-come, first-served basis when the visitor center is open. Reservations over the phone cannot be taken, but you can call ahead to see if the chair is available. 

Chair users have to sign a waiver and go through a quick walkthrough of how it is used. The chair can be used on any trails, including natural surface trails, within McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove.

The Freedom chair has an 18-inch seat pan. Shoes must be worn while using the chair and a helmet is recommended. Forest Preserve staff can hold the chair in place, but they cannot lift or transfer someone to the chair. Bring family members or friends to help if you need assistance. 

The lever-driven wheelchair features rugged mountain bike wheels. Chair users will push the levers forward to propel themselves forward and pull the levers back to brake. 

For more information on the chair, visit the GRIT Freedom Chair FAQs.

Expanding inclusivity options

The new chair is one of many inclusivity options at Four Rivers, which was the first nature center in the county to receive accreditation from the National Inclusion Project in 2023. 

“By investing in a GRIT Freedom Chair for public use, we open up all of our trails to all visitors,” said Jerome Gabriel, facility supervisor at Four Rivers. “This chair, coupled with our inclusion initiatives inside Four Rivers, moves us forward in our goal to continue adding new inclusion opportunities for the public.”

Ordering the chair was another step in enhancing Four Rivers’ accessibility and inclusion offerings, he added.

“Part of being an inclusive facility means finding ways to help all people, regardless of ability level, be active participants at Four Rivers both indoors and out,” he said. “This chair can help those with mobility issues access areas of the preserve they may not have been able to otherwise or make access to those areas they would have enjoyed easier.”



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