Outdoor Access For All
By Willow Titensor
Photography by Justus Reynolds and Brian Nicholson
The Ogden area is renowned for its unique access to epic hiking and biking trails located just minutes from the city. Spring wildflowers, summer streams, and autumn leaves make northern Utah the ideal place to venture into the wilderness. There are oodles of trails with miles upon miles of magnificent terrain to explore. Now, imagine having this glorious mountain playground in your own backyard, but never being able to explore it.
Many in the community have never experienced the natural wonders nearby because mobility issues prevent them from taking full advantage of hiking trails. That is, until now. The Weber School Foundation saw this issue in the community and found a solution: adaptive trail chairs. Ten were purchased by the foundation and will be available for the public to take on Ogden trails this summer!
These lightweight, durable chairs are guided by two people; while the front person pulls, the other pushes from behind. Trail chairs are made by SpokesnMotion and are called “joelettes.” The unique, one-wheel design absorbs shock, distributes the weight evenly to the two “sherpas” and makes it possible to go over most any terrain. The individual guiding the front will wear straps (similar to those on a backpack) over his or her shoulders to ensure the passengers safety. Other features include adjustable foot and headrests, a seatbelt, and brakes on the rear. The arm and headrests are padded for maximum comfort and the joelettes can be folded for easy transportation and storage.
The project was inspired by Doman Briggs, a young boy scout with muscular dystrophy. When an opportunity to join his troop at Antelope Island for a camping trip came up, he jumped at it.
“He’s a very social young man, he wants to be included in everything. I came up with the idea after a bit of research, I found an adaptive trail chair so he could hike with the rest of us,” said scoutmaster Justus Reynolds. Reynolds presented the idea to Antelope Island park manager, Jeremy Shaw, who was more than willing to purchase the joelette.
Thanks to this invention, Briggs was able to venture out with the rest of his friends and explore the whole island. Trail chairs are light and easy to maneuver, so the other young scouts could help. The scoutmaster’s son, Ciaus, loved helping Briggs around. “He volunteered every time we went out,” said Reynolds, “Everyone wanted Doman to have the experience.”
The story soon reached a member of The Weber School Foundation who then proposed the idea to the rest of the board. The members were enthusiastic about the proposition and now these versatile gizmos will be available to take out on dirt trails, paved paths, and everything in between. Finally those with disabilities can be included in all sorts of outdoor activities.
The Weber School Foundation is an independent, 501(c)3 educational nonprofit organization. Since 1976 they have undertaken projects like this one, providing Weber School District Students with remarkable opportunities. Two fundraisers are held each year, The Christmas Jubilee and the Annual Golf Tournament. Proceeds from these events go to things such as scholarships, school supplies, educational tools, specialized training, and adaptive equipment for those with special needs.
The mission of the foundation is to better Weber School District. Brandi Hammon, owner and broker of Mountain Luxury Real Estate, is a member of the board. “I am a part of the foundation because there is nothing more important than education. We have a direct impact on the community and we’re making a difference in the lives of these kids.”
Trail chairs will be available at the following locations, each will have a different procedure for checking out equipment. Call any of the following locations for more information.
Weber School District Office
Ogden Nature Center
Weber State REC Office