Mount Airy, Connecticut has a special gem when it comes to the world of treehouses. Nestled in its nearly 1500 acres of forest, walking and bridle trails, lies Ohio’s only public wheelchair accessible treehouse.
If you can get to Mount Airy, you can visit this wheelchair accessible treehouse even if you don’t feel you have the skills, time, money or space to build a treehouse of your own. My favourite aspect of this treehouse is that it was built with everyone in mind.
We often think of rope ladders when we imagine the quintessential treehouse. Some of our blog posts like this one challenge us to change that image to a more inclusive model that allows everyone, regardless of level of physical ability.
There’s nothing wrong, of course, with dreaming of a place where only you and a few of your friends can escape to when you want to get away from it all, but it’s also important and kind to consider the world from the perspective of those with varying levels of physical ability.
I live in a home that is only accessible by stairs. One of my friends is in a wheelchair and I feel guilty that I live in a place that doesn’t allow him to visit without 3 or 4 strong people carrying him and his chair up the stairs.
Towards a Wheelchair Accessible World
My friend’s disability has really opened my eyes to a world that has much work to do when it comes to considering people with physical limitations. I can now glimpse the challenges that suddenly appear before someone who was able-bodied but now has to use a wheelchair or even a walker.
Does your bank have any stairs? How do you get to and from work? Can you get on and off a bus? Does your workplace have an elevator or is it all at ground level?
Most of us would feel uncomfortable if there were a sign outside our home, work or any other place we go to that said “No disabled people allowed”. But that’s exactly what we say when we forget about people with disabilities when designing buildings.
And that’s what’s so refreshing about Mount Airy’s wheelchair accessible treehouse — the designers recognized that this is a park area for everyone to enjoy and so it was important that the treehouse be the same.
As I get older, my sense of community broadens and deepens. This wheelchair accessible treehouse lights up my spirit with the knowledge that anyone who can make it along the park’s paths, whether by foot or by wheel, there is a treehouse there for them when they get there.
It’s a knowledge that fills me with hope for a world that has a tendency to forget about the love that binds us together as a community of beings circling a small star on the outskirts of one of a hundred billion galaxies and counting.
To me, treehouses, in their own charming way, communicate the light and spirit of life itself. And light, as you know, yearns to be shared with everyone and everything across the universe. I hope that the wheelchair accessible treehouse becomes an integral part of that light as we forge forward in the evolution of treehouse design.