The Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community Wednesday recognized Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County for helping to create an inclusive, accessible, and welcoming community with the opening of its new Accessible Trail.
“This project is the greatest inclusionary outcome in our entire region, if not the entire state,” said Amy Beck, the executive director of the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living.
Beck serves on the steering committee for the partnership and was on hand to present the certificate of recognition to Hawk Mountain President Jerry Regan and Board Chairman Fred Beste.
Beck, who herself uses a wheelchair, explained that it’s especially difficult to find accessible outdoor spaces simply because the regulations do not yet exist. Karen Shoemaker, the executive director of The Arc and who also serves on the steering committee, agreed.
“Everyone wants to enjoy the same opportunities, but usually if access isn’t required, it doesn’t happen. That’s wasn’t the case with Hawk Mountain,” Shoemaker explained.
The Accessible Trail at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary bends 900 feet in a wide arc, offering a longer but less steep pathway to the nearby South Lookout. The pathway features resting areas after every incline, bench seating, an accessible education area near the lookout, and a smooth viewing platform at the South Lookout.
The new trail opened in July at the not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary known for its scenic views and for the chance to watch annual hawk migrations.
“Over the course of year, Hawk Mountain used to see just a handful of people who used wheelchairs. Now with the Accessible Trail, we see someone nearly every single day and often times, several people in one day. It’s the best project I’ve ever been involved with,” says Hawk Mountain President Jerry Regan.To learn more, visit Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Accessibility webpage or call 610-756-6961.