Our building is closed today and until further notice because of water damage. Access Living staff is working remotely. Look for more updates to be posted here as they become available.

Earth Day 2022


April 22, 2022 | by Jerome Palliser


Jerome Palliser

Program Director Assistant


(312) 640-2113

It’s been over 50 years since peace activist John McConnell first asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to hold a day to challenge people, and nations, to think above themselves. Since then, 193 countries have joined his cause to observe how we are one with nature.

Born to a Iowan preacher during World War One, John McConnell saw the destruction that unchecked manufacturing of plastics has on the ecosystem, and spent much of his adult life championing causes to challenge us to “think bigger.”

Similarly, COVID-19 has become a reminder to us to critically rethink the way we have always done things. And for many Americans, they have taken a renewed interest to the outdoors. The National Park Service recently reported that re-opened national parks had hosted 60 million more visitors in 2021 than in 2020.

Want to get outside? People with disabilities can get a lifetime pass to all of the national parks for $10 with a National Parks Access Pass. You can learn more about the Access Program and the accessibility of the Parks at the US National Parks Website. Park Rangers are also excellent in-person resources when visiting parks to get the ins and outs of what’s accessible and can best meet your group’s needs.

Climbing mountains and packing bear spray may not be for everybody, but that doesn’t mean that the outdoors are necessarily exclusionary. And because disability is not binary, many places that say they are accessible, may not be accessible to you. Here are three quick ideas for helping finding places near you to explore, regardless of disability:

  • AllTrails is a fantastic resource for finding local getaways, allowing users the option of leaving their own reviews of their trips and suggestions for future travelers. The national scope and scale of this website can help you find the closest and best option to get some fresh air and reconnect with nature.
  • Disabled Hikers is a disability-led organization who tackle outdoor accessibility by ranking types of accessible trail surfaces, using the Spoon Rating System to grade trails, and has a form to share experiences for other adventure-oriented people who may be looking to explore.
  • For readers, Barrier-Free Travel are a series of books and articles by Candy B. Harrington, a travel writer of over 40 years. Their books help readers navigate some of the most beautiful places in America, including gravel grade, slope, visitor center information, and even accessible options for nearby hotels. Candy’s husband, Charles Pannell, also helps format and provide photographs of the trails and rooms.