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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

"Opening The Great Outdoors"
February 5, 2004

CARLISLE, MASSACHUSETTS--Thursday's Boston Globe featured a story highlighting the Universal Access Program run by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The goal of the program, said project director Gigi Ranno, is to help people to enjoy outdoor activities with their friends and family members in an inclusive environment.

"That means you don't have people in wheelchairs off to your left and people without disabilities in another area."

The program's staff, volunteers and recreational equipment vendors have helped more than 2,000 people with disabilities get involved in winter sports.

"I like to come and see the people have a great time," said program director Tom McCarthy.

McCarthy, 54, got polio in 1955 and uses a wheelchair. Trained as a landscape architect, he became an expert at "accessible design."

"It's our feeling in the Universal Access Program that everyone has a right to be able to access public land, and we've taken it a step further: to experience outdoor recreation," he said. "What we have learned is we haven't come up against a disability that we haven't been able to adapt the activity to, to make it work to some degree, whatever the level of disability."

Entire article:
"Opening the great outdoors" (Boston Globe)


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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.