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Her daughter couldn’t access the park in a wheelchair, so a Quebec mom proposed a solution

Her daughter couldn’t access the park in a wheelchair, so a Quebec mom proposed a solution

Andrée-Ann Madore’s face lit up on Tuesday when she lastly returned to the paths she had as soon as walked by means of a number of years in the past.

Earlier than her accident, Madore, 23, was similar to another teenager who loved working by means of the park, tenting and sleeping underneath the celebs close to her hometown of Coaticook, Que. about 160 kilometres east of Montreal.

Earlier than her accident in 2018, Andrée-Ann Madore loved the outside. (Submitted by Nathalie Thibeault)

However in 2018, when she was 19, she misplaced management of her automobile, which ended up in a ditch.

“I by no means imagined she would recuperate, ” mentioned Nathalie Thibeault, her mom. It took a very long time, however in January 2020, Madore started to heal.

“They’ve by no means seen a restoration like my daughter’s,” mentioned Thibeault. “She shouldn’t be in a position to communicate however she will talk.”

Arranging bodily remedy periods, specialists and round the clock care, Thibeault says the previous couple of years has made her notice how little is accessible to folks with decreased mobility — she couldn’t even take her daughter on the park trails.

“It’s solely when you may have a baby with sure wants, like Andrée-Ann, who can’t stroll, that you just notice that there are quite a lot of stuff you want to do nevertheless it’s not accessible,” mentioned Thibeault.

Within the fall of 2021, she known as the workplace of Gorge Park in Coaticook with the “loopy thought” that the park get the required tools to make sure trails can be utilized by folks with decreased mobility.

Now, that mission is a actuality.

A gravel path and a wooden bench looks out onto a creek filled with rocks.
The paths within the Gorge Park will likely be accessible to folks with decreased mobility beginning Saturday. (Laurie Dufresne/Radio-Canada)

Beginning Saturday, folks with various accessibility wants have entry to the park in each the summer time and winter thanks to 3 new wheelchairs and the park’s work to adapt its trails and amenities.

Thibeault says she feels fortunate that she will advocate for her daughter. When the park responded positively, “I mentioned to myself: ‘Sure, I labored towards this for Andrée-Anne however I additionally did this for different folks.’”

‘What a present’

Madore tried out the a so-called Sea Horse on Tuesday, a wheelchair with three interchangeable wheels which permit for motion on all types of surfaces — corresponding to snow, sand, gravel or even water.

Thibeault says it was “stunning to see.”

“When she began to undergo the woods, she appeared in all places with an enormous smile on her face. That has no value. If you see your child mild up … I mentioned ‘My goodness! Wow what a present,’” mentioned Thibeault. “It permits us to dwell once more and have that normality, like everybody else.”

A woman sits upright in a bed. Standing next to her is a man wearing a mask.
Andrée-Ann Madore pictured with one among her physiotherapists. Though she is non-verbal and makes use of a wheelchair, Madore can stand upright if assisted. (Submitted by Nathalie Thibeault)

Thibeault says when she first known as the native park workplace, she by no means anticipated such a large-scale mission.

“Possibly [I expected] a seahorse wheelchair so we might stroll across the trails however they began a mission that was unimaginable. I’m so grateful,” mentioned Thibeault. “It’s about gaining normality in her life — in my daughter’s life — but in addition within the lives of different folks.”

‘The necessity was there’

Caroline Sage, govt director of the Gorge Park and Parc Découverte Nature, says it took over a yr to get the funds for all tools.

After the park approached the Japanese Townships council for sports activities and recreation, they acquired three wheelchairs: a TrackZ, a Dahut and the Sea Horse.

“We all know that wheelchairs have small wheels so the floor must be very, very agency to allow them to go outdoors,” mentioned Sage.

The park had its trails assessed by Kéroul, a incapacity rights group.

Sage says the park can be working towards making its buildings extra accessible.

People walk through a snowy path in the forest, one person is in a wheelchair.
Nathalie Thibeault, far left, Caroline Sage, pushing the wheelchair, and Andrée-Ann Madore get pleasure from one of many forest trails. (Submitted by Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook)

“The necessity was there,” mentioned Sage. “We all know that nature does us properly. We skilled that in the course of the pandemic. It does us properly when it comes to morale. So now we have to make nature accessible.”

Whereas hundreds of {dollars} had been spent on the tools, she says one other huge funding was taking the time to coach employees.

“We had completely different automobiles however do we all know tips on how to function them? The kind of mobility [to match with] the kind of wheelchair? The kind of tools that has to go on one path and never the opposite? That’s what was essentially the most sophisticated,” mentioned Sage.

She says she hopes different parks throughout Quebec comply with their lead and provides folks the flexibility to interact with the outside autonomously.

“This isn’t a money-making mission, it’s about inclusion,” mentioned Sage. “I’m satisfied it’s going to reply to a necessity. Even when it’s solely 10 individuals who profit from it,” mentioned Sage.

“We noticed it with Andrée-Ann. To see her face and smile …. Simply that [made me] say ‘okay it’s all value it.’”

A woman does a handstand on the rocks near a creek and forest.
Andrée-Ann Madore loved visiting the park earlier than her accident in 2018. (Submitted by Nathalie Thibeault)

Mother hopes mission can ‘enhance every day life’ of others

Thibeault will likely be on the park on Saturday together with her daughter for the official launch of the mission. She says she hopes this will positively change different households’ lives, because it has for hers.

“You possibly can say it’s a rebirth …. You need to dwell it to know what this offers us when it comes to liberty,” mentioned Thibeault.

“If I can enhance the every day lifetime of different folks and assist them get out of their home … If this may help them to find different issues, to place a smile on their face, to get recent air … To go within the forest and to stroll round and to go along with household and reconnect with nature, my God, it’s marvellous.”