Think back to the last time you experienced a little adventure in your life. How did it make you feel? We know from numerous studies that participating in outdoor recreational activities can reduce stress and increase mental and physical well-being. However, due to the necessity of attending to everyday life, it’s easy to push fun-time to the bottom of the to-do list.
Wheel:Life has been following Yoocan on social media, and we have to admit, we’re a little jealous of all of the storytellers who have found ways to integrate adventure into their lives on a regular basis. From kayaking to solo paragliding to climbing Machu Picchu, these thrill-seekers will have you hankering to head off on an escapade of your own.
Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to read through to the bottom of the page to find out how to post your own story on Yoocan.
Wheeled World — Pierre and Myriam
This traveling duo from France had only known each other for a few months when Pierre was injured in the November 2015 Paris attacks. After completing his rehab and adjusting to his new mode of getting around (a manual wheelchair), the T4 paraplegic and his partner, Myriam, decided they weren’t going to let his SCI keep them from doing one of their most beloved activities — exploring the world.
Although motivation and excitement were high for the couple’s first trip with Pierre in a chair, planning their 2017 Canadian excursion proved difficult due to the lack of accessibility information online for their destinations of choice. Despite running into a multitude of obstacles during their voyage, they had a great time and couldn’t wait to plan their next journey. Nonetheless, they made sure to carefully consider what they could do differently to lighten their load and improve their travel experience going forward.
To celebrate their nuptials the following year, they opted to visit several US national parks and, to their delight, discovered they were largely accessible. As they gained confidence in their planning and problem-solving skills, they grew eager to share the knowledge they had acquired so other wheelchair users could enjoy all of the wonders our world has to offer, too. That’s when they decided to put their careers on hold to start a nonprofit dedicated to spreading accessibility information about popular tourist sites. Wheeled World was born, and the two of them got to work seeking out sponsors for a 14-month trip to four regions of the world: South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
After a year of planning and procuring funding, they hit the road in September of 2019 and headed to South America where they successfully attained their main objective — climbing Machu Picchu. In February of 2020, they will attempt to traverse the entire length of New Zealand on an electric tandem bicycle (a Pino Steps by Hase) fitted with foot pedals for Myriam and a handcycle for Pierre. We can’t wait to see those photos on their Instagram!
For now, WheeledWorld.org is only available in French, but their travel stories are often translated into English on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube). The English version with the project details and itinerary can be downloaded here.
Inspired to live an adventurous life after reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle as a young adolescent, Erin Clark set her aspirations in motion when she gleefully seized the opportunity to travel to Kenya at the age of 19. Since then, the Canadian native has sought out and created opportunities for herself to travel and live overseas. Born with sacral agenesis, which, in her case, causes patchy paralysis from the waist down, she loves exploring the great outdoors both in her wheelchair and by crawling over terrains her chair can’t navigate.
While on a trip to the Alps a few years ago, Clark stumbled upon paragliding, and with the help of a local tour operator, she was able to experience a tandem flight shortly after. The instructors, although they didn’t have any prior experience flying with wheelchair users, were open to figuring out a way for her to do it safely. When discussing the process of working out the logistics, Clark said:
“For me, that’s a natural process to go through and a natural way of engaging in an activity or environment, but often, it’s the thing that makes able-bodied people clam up and get tense. They start out frustrated. But these guys were excited about the process, and not just the inspirational end results where they all feel like heroes, but they enjoyed brainstorming different ways to make it happen. I felt really comfortable in the state of uncertainty that’s really vulnerable for me but also pleasurable and hard to share. It’s rare that someone else enters that space with me.”
After that initial flight, she returned to Spain, where she was living at the time, and started contacting paragliding schools. Flying tandem had been fun, and it stoked her thirst for adventure so much so that she wanted to learn to fly solo. One school responded, and they spent the following three years figuring it out together. Clark explains her desire to learn to pilot this way:
“For me, a huge bulk of the fun is figuring it out. If you take that element out of it, I feel facilitated, which is not adventurous to me at all. I like that we had to go through all kinds of variations of adapting the sport until we found what worked for me and for us as a team. It’s like we invented our own sport in a way.”
Clark is also a writer and aerialist by profession and travels internationally for circus performances and para pole sport competitions. Her writing has been published in Gay Mag, CBC, Refinery29, and WheelchairTravel.org.
Two of the many expeditions on her yet-to-do adventure list include spotting reindeer in the Arctic and learning to drive a 4×4 on the sand dunes of Namibia. Follow along on social media for photos and videos of these future excursions and more!
When Georgia native William Blakely was born prematurely, his parents learned soon after that the trauma had resulted in cerebral palsy. He’s never let his disability hold him back, however, and at the age of 14, he went on his first outdoor adventure trip when he kayaked down the Chattahoochee River with his friend Greg. He officially caught the exhilaration bug that day and hasn’t slowed down ever since.
Blakely’s most recent excursion, and the 20-year-old’s favorite thus far, was a cruise with his mom and brother in which he went parasailing while docked in Belize. When asked why he loves trying new recreational activities, he stated, “Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, being able to get out of my wheelchair, even if it’s just for a few hours, means a lot to me.” He credits his mom and other trustworthy people in his life for helping him realize all of his daredevil dreams.
Blakely is an avid Yoocan storyteller, and you can read more about his lively exploits here:
- River Adventures
- Adaptive Rock Climbing with BlazeSports and Catalyst Sports
- Hang Gliding with Cerebral Palsy
- My First Year at Camp Possibility
What Will Your Next Adventure Be?
Making time for an exhilarating experience doesn’t mean you have to fly to a foreign country or take a year off to tour the world. Chances are you can find adrenaline-inducing activities in your very own community. Don’t hesitate to call the operators to discuss how they can accommodate your specific needs to make your next venture possible. After all, couldn’t we each use a little more adventure in our lives?
So, what adventure activity will you be pursuing next? Be sure to post it on Yoocan! All you have to do is go to yoocanfind.com, click on “+ADD” at the top of the page, and follow the steps to create an account by clicking on “Sign Up For Free.” Once you’re registered, you’ll be directed to a form where you can write up your story and upload a few photos. Need help? Just click on the “Chat With Caring People” button at the bottom right side of the website. All submissions are reviewed before appearing on the website, so you probably won’t see yours right away. Just make sure to follow along on social media daily, so you don’t miss it!
About the Author
Betsy Bailey has a diverse background that includes experience in travel and culinary writing, business operations, marketing research, and playing volleyball professionally overseas.
Betsy has been writing for Wheel:Life since January of 2017 and thoroughly enjoys the process of getting to know her interviewees. She also enjoys a good vegan brunch, practices parkour, speaks French fluently, and travels any chance she gets!