In the Wake of a Life-Changing Spinal Injury, Adapting and Healing in Nature

Photo courtesy of Matthew Tilford

I’m a wheelchair-user who likes to test my physical and mental abilities, and with the help of adaptive technology, recreational equipment, family, and friends, I’ve learned that nothing is impossible. Earth has way too many beautiful and interesting landscapes to not explore, and pushing my physical and mental limits has been a source of healing after sustaining a life-changing spinal cord injury over a decade ago.

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Out of the Closet and Into the Parks

Mike Ryan at Acadia National Park/Photo courtesy of Gaze at the National Parks

As members of both the LGBTQ+ community and the outdoors community, we look forward to exploring the intersection of LGBTQ+ heritage and culture with our national parks and public lands.

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Article Coming Soon

Oops! Sorry we missed you. Our first article will be live by June 1st, and we are so excited to share our journey with you. In the meantime, please check out our friends and fellow ambassadors.

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Choosing Joy at Any Age

Our journey began when my Grandma Joy and I were chatting about my 2009 Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I enthralled her with my tales of sketchy hitchhikes and close encounters with bears, and then she expressed her profound regret that she never got to see a mountain in her 80-plus years of life. Her words broke my heart… and changed the course our lives forever.

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Shedding Light on Invisible Disabilities in Nature

My hope is that by expanding the narrative about disability and the outdoors, we can create a richer community of national park lovers and advocates. We all deserve to enjoy the benefits that time in nature provides; we all deserve to love ourselves and love the places we are in.

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Nature Doesn’t Care About Gender: Finding Safety and Comfort in the Wilderness

Nature doesn’t care about our gender, how we dress or what bathroom we use; nature provides us a safe space where we can be free to live without being evaluated, and we can be ourselves without judgment. The outdoors lifts our anxieties of existing in a binary gendered world, and shows us how beautiful the world truly is.

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Nature is a Right: Ensuring Safety in the Outdoors for Non-White Travelers

Unfortunately, even in this modern day society, there are those who fundamentally feel a sense of entitlement, ownership, and control over who the great outdoors belongs to. Nature is a right and no one has the authority to decide that any one particular group doesn’t deserve access to publicly accessible locations or doesn’t belong there. Yet it happens way more often than we would like think it does. As a Black female camper, there are unique considerations and precautions that have to be taken to ensure safety.

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Back to Nature: Supporting Our Mental Health & Wellness

“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” – John Muir May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to explore our intrinsic connection to Earth’s natural spaces and their life enhancing effects on our holistic well-being. Over the past 100 years or so, humans have gradually slipped away from those connections; we have exchanged a life reliant on the land for one of convenience in urban settings, and we’re… Read More

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