Cincinnati Parks’ hiking program wins state ‘best of show’ award

The Cincinnati Parks Foundation’s hiking program for children with disabilities won earlier this month the overall “best of show” award from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association.

A wheelchair by Luke5Adventures for the Cincinnati Parks Foundation-Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center program, be.well Fall Adaptive Hiking program, helps participants navigate an otherwise inaccessible park to children with disabilities.

Now in its third year, the foundation’s “be.well Fall Adaptive” hike program won the 12th annual governor’s award for parks and recreation, presented Feb. 8 at the state association’s conference and trade show in Sandusky. The governor’s award was established in 2010 to recognize the one park and recreation program, event, or project that has had the most significant impact on quality of life in the preceding year. 

The hiking program is part of a series of free seasonal programs for children with disabilities in partnership between the foundation and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The program also includes nonprofit partner Luke5Adventures. It combines physical therapy from Children’s, a parks passport and the use of custom-built all-terrain wheelchairs from Mason-based nonprofit Luke5Adventures (Hiking With Disabilities | Luke 5 Adventures | United States)

For many participants, this program made it possible for the children to be immersed in nature in ways that would be otherwise impossible. It was the very first experience of being out in the woods, off a cement path, for many children in the program.

Jennifer Angeli, a physical therapist at Children’s, has been operating the program for 12 years.

In 2021, the hiking program won first place in the adaptive programming category from OPRA. In 2020, the partnership’s spring running program also won a first place in the same category.

All thirteen winners of OPRA program, event, and project awards were considered for this statewide “best in show” award. Officials from nine statewide organizations formed the voting panel for the 2021 award.

The foundation, in addition to a trophy and a proclamation from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, received $500 from the state association. Founded in 1995, the parks foundation was created to building broad-based private/public partnerships supporting the conservation and enhancement of city parks and greenspaces.

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