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The Magic of Splore

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my running shoes were replaced by paper booties; my camelback, replaced by a drip-line; my technical gear, replaced by an ill-fitting gown; my active outdoor life, replaced by sedentary behavior in a concrete room.  When doctors, family, and friends asked what I needed, I said I needed to get outdoors, I needed to be active. The response – “Are you sure you want to do that?”  - “Be careful” – “Don’t overdo it.” It was as if a stroll down a shaded trail would not be good for me? Would somehow be dangerous? Intuitively I knew that to thrive I needed physical movement; I needed to reconnect to the natural environment.

I joined Splore in 2007 because Splore is all about the connection between health and the natural environment. The “Magic of Splore” started in 1977, with the support of the Moab community. For more than three decades Splore has been providing active outdoor experiences to individuals with disabilites and special healthcare needs.

“Splore has shown me that a person like myself with multiple handicaps can still participate in activities on the river runs. It has helped me to overcome some of my fears and given me confidence to do more with my life.” Pat

What is the Magic of Splore? It’s the joy on a child’s face when they ride the rapids or climb to the top of a rock wall. It’s the self-esteem built when a person with a disability is recognized and accepted for their abilities. It’s the connections made when walls are taken down, barriers are broken and people can be themselves.

“Though being in a wheelchair, I was able to participate at any level I desired, even rowing when my strength permitted. My experiences with Splore have increased my self-esteem, given me a greater sense of self-reliance and taught me to acknowledge my limits. In a word, therapeutic!

Children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs are one our most vulnerable populations. For children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs, participation in active recreation is an enormous lifestyle change. Evidence suggests participation in active recreation enhances overall well-being by reducing chronic disease risk through increased strength, bone density, vital capacity, and mobility. Additionally, individuals who participate in active recreation form friendships, develop social skill, and find identity and meaning in life. Yet despite these tremendous benefits, only 5% of individuals with a disability or special healthcare need are physically active.

Splore activities vary based on season and include camping, canoeing, horseback riding, indoor and outdoor rock climbing, kayaking, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and white water rafting. Utah’s renowned national parks and sport venues provide Splore’s foundation. Branded as “The State of Sport”, 80% of Utah’s land is administered for recreation use which includes more than one hundred bodies of boatable water, fourteen ski resorts, ten permanent Olympic sports venues, nine white water rivers, eight national parks and national recreation areas, and seven national forests. Splore’s federal special use permits, recreation partners, and generous underwriters, allow us to help individuals with disabilities and special health care needs overcome barriers that prevent access to recreation opportunities. Splore’s highly qualified staff and volunteers ensure a positive experience for all who participate. These staff and volunteers represent the fields of medicine, occupational therapy, physical therapy, public health, recreation therapy, recreation management and social work.

To increase awareness of Splore’s activities, we are holding the 1st Annual Red Rock Regatta on Saturday, August 28, 2010. Centered at the Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Moab, Utah the regatta includes a costume flotilla and all-crafts boat race as well as fun family activities, food, and live music. Splore typically scholarships 80% of participant costs. Proceeds from the Red Rock Regatta will provide scholarships to provide the opportunity for individuals to participate in Splore’s adventures.

 “At the closing circle Sunday afternoon it was all I could do to keep from breaking down in tears, overcome by the depth of emotion I felt at the expression of friendship and love, cooperation, appreciation, camaraderie and caring demonstrated towards everyone on the trip by guides, volunteers and participants.”

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