NM0912_outdoor1Quadriplegic and recreation expert Chris Clasby knows how important outdoor recreation can be to people with disabilities. Wheelers can reap many health benefits from being active in nature, but mostly, it’s vitally important to a person’s self-worth. “Recreation and leisure activities are a really important expression of our identities,” says Clasby, program coordinator of Montana Access to Outdoor Recreation.

Recreation is especially important to those with a newly acquired disability. And though the medical model of rehabilitation is necessary, of course, it’s the social approach that helps people realize that despite a disability, there are ways to still enjoy life. Plus recreation helps the person with a disability and their family and friends get used to new, unfamiliar circumstances. “If they can together do the things that they’ve always done, it helps both parties adjust,” says Clasby.

He also points to research that shows those with disabilities who engage in recreation will be more successful in other areas of life, such a