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Local program provides access to nature via Freedom Trax

GOLETA, Calif. (KEYT) -- The Santa Barbara non-profit organization, NatureTrack, held this Saturday an event to showcase their devices, Freedom Trax, to give wheelchair users a chance to explore the ocean a little closer

A small group of wheelchair users gathered at the Goleta State Beach looking forward to go for a run on the beach with the help of these machines.

Many people who use manual wheelchairs have never independently enjoyed being on a beach or maneuvering along a trail.

NatureTrack mission is to help those with physical disabilities to experience nature.

The devices, under the brand name Freedom Trax, are attached to manual wheelchairs and are quickly transformed into a battery-powered all-terrain vehicle that easily traverses beach and trails.

Users can independently explore and enjoy nature or the beach alongside family and friends.

"Since my accident, this is the closest I have gotten to the beach. The Freedom Trax has given me back my freedom to explore," said Stephen Tack.

The Freedom Trax are available free of charge.

"Events like this becomes an opportunity for these individuals to network and bond in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise," said Sue Eisaguirre, NatureTrack founder.

The organization offers monthly trips on a first come, first served basis. Special trips can be arranged by contacting NatureTrack.

Brian is smiling under that mask as he told us about his excitement at “finding this shell, and picking it up myself,” he emphasized, “so close to the water’s edge.”    It was a milestone moment for him. Photo Credit: Rick Carter

The program is funded by private foundations and donors, along with Santa Barbara County Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund, UCSB Coastal Fund, Explore the Coast, Route to Parks and California State Parks.

On the second Sunday of every month from 10 to noon, people who use wheelchairs, can come with their friends, families or loved ones, to try them out and take a ‘stRoll’ with your favorite person who’s a wheelchair user.    

For more information on how to volunteer or donate please click here

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Janete Weinstein

Janete Weinstein is a multimedia journalist at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Janete, click here.

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