TGA helps Kent Accessibility Ambassador launch new guided nature walks
With support from TGA, Gini Mitchell, 49 from Folkestone, has started a new business called ‘Wild with Wheels’ which provides guided nature walks for mobility scooter and wheelchair users.
Gini has helped fellow people with disabilities for over 25 years. Working for Mencap and various organisations, Gini has supported people of all ages with conditions such as Learning Disabilities, behavioural challenges and Dementia. Despite having a neuromuscular condition, which means she can only walk short distances using mobility aids, Gini has worked tirelessly to enrich the lives of challenged people. Her new accessible walks venture continues this commitment to improving mental health and wellbeing for everyone.
As a lifelong lover of the great outdoors, Gini has used TGA mobility scooters for many years to explore the countryside. Before launching her new business, Gini used her Zest Plus and Supersport scooters to run nature lessons in the woods for children at the Martello Primary School. We’ve recently provided Gini with a TGA WHILL powerchair for greater indoor and outdoor flexibility – she is using this product to lead her inclusive nature walks in the Kent countryside.
Wild With Wheels ‘offers funded, safe, and supported guided and interactive walks for adults and children along the Kent Heritage Coast and within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Walks can be tailored to participants’ wants and needs. They may feature creative activities such as leaf rubbing and storytelling, finding out more about the wildlife encountered, and learning more about the area’s history. Different levels of walks mean there is something available for a wide range of disabilities and impairments, older people, disadvantaged groups, and schools.’ The service has been funded through Kent Downs (AONB) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA UK) on behalf of Farming in Protected Landscapes (FIPL).
Gini and her team are so proud to offer this new experience to locals and tourists as she explains: “As a person with difficulties getting around, I totally understand the frustrations people can feel if they can’t access the countryside. This is why ‘Wild with Wheels’ is so important for so many people. It is a leveller – it lets everyone get out and get surrounded by nature. We have a range of routes which are barrier-free and all scooter friendly so together we can discover and learn in detail about the natural world here in picturesque Kent. This is my passion and will always be. Thank you to everyone for making this possible including TGA who have been instrumental in opening up rural adventures for me with their scooters.”
Katy Hill, 62 from Canterbury and terrorist attack survivor, joined Gini on her mobility scooter during the inaugural guided walk. Being able to experience the Leas Coastal Park for the first time, without struggling on crutches, was so memorable for Katy as she describes: “I have been looking for something like this for a very long time. There are so many benefits – companionship, using all my senses … it makes me feel normal. A magpie landed next to me in a flowering bush full of bees on the Coastal Park – I was in paradise.”
You can sign up for accessible nature walks with Gini and her team at: www.wildwithwheels.com Guided walks are free of charge and there is a range of activities, dates and locations to choose from.
Image Ⓒ Alex Hare Photography