By: Carmela Mayeski

Carmela advocates for the improved accessibility of outdoor spaces in Massachusetts and beyond.

Read the below writeup from Carmela, an educator from Massachusetts who spearheaded the trial and purchase of GRIT Freedom Chairs for her town. This piece is part of a longer essay.

Carmela Mayeski is an educator in Massachusetts who has worked hard to improve outdoor access for her students. Below, Carmela writes about how “Equal access is not a matter of convenience, but a matter of basic human rights.”

Spending time outdoors is an amazing experience, affording us the opportunity to observe and enjoy nature’s wonders and offering us the chance to relax, exercise or just connect with the natural world. It’s an activity in which increasing amounts of research are confirming what native cultures have known for thousands of years, the natural world and being in it, heals us.

Truly, for me, the argument for equitable access comes down to one thing, our kids. As an educator for over 10 years, there is little that is more negatively impactful to a young person than the feeling that they don’t fit in or are being left out. This situation doesn’t change with activities that occur outdoors. As a district, my school system works with community partners and an Outdoor Learning Committee to incorporate many outdoor learning experiences into each grade’s curriculum. These experiences include trips to natural areas, outdoor classroom spaces in our school yards and nature trails. These activities often involve extended periods of time spent in parks and wooded areas. We are very fortunate to be able to provide these opportunities to our students and we ensure that these activities include all of our students, even those who utilize adaptive equipment for mobility issues.

“It is exceedingly important to ensure every student has equitable opportunities to participate in all school activities in meaningful ways. The freedom chair provides full access during outdoor activities for our students who require adaptive equipment.”

—Lori Duerr, Superintendent of Falmouth Schools

They deserve to experience the same wonderful moments of discovery and wonder as their able-bodied peers. We work together with community groups and adaptive equipment companies like GRIT to ensure that our trails and experiences are accessible to every student. The importance of adaptive equipment like the Freedom chair cannot be overstated. The features of this chair combine the safety and security of a traditional wheelchair with the versatility of a mountain bike. There were hikes in our educational experiences that took our kids through forests and down along beaches that simply would not have been possible without the ingenuity of the GRIT chair. The joy on our kids’ faces as they were able to hike the same trails as their classmates was unforgettable.

We collectively have the responsibility to ensure that all of our natural areas be accessible to everyBODY. Existing areas need to be modified to widen and grade existing trails to allow for the safe passage of people in wheelchairs and for those who utilize mobility aids. When circumstances prohibit or prolong this type of modification, those who need them should be given free and equal access to equipment like the GRIT chair that will allow them to freely explore these beautiful areas. Equal access is not a matter of convenience, but a matter of basic human rights. Nature belongs to all of us and should be able to be enjoyed by all. No one gets left out.

Ready to join the conversation?

The GRIT team thanks Carmela for her commitment to improving her students’ experiences, raising awareness of folks with mobility challenges, and for dedicating a huge amount of time and effort to improving accessibility in Massachusetts. These efforts continue to improve accessibility in the state and country as a whole. Click here to see accessible trails in MA.

Are you or someone you know doing similar work? Too often, these incredible efforts happen in a vacuum, and we’d like to change that! If you’re working to improve accessibility, we’d love to put the spotlight on you. Contact GRIT at to let us know a bit about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and why it is important, and we’ll feature you in our next post.