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Annual Wheel Walk highlights Stanley Park's accessibility for all visitors

Date: 6/6/2012

June 6, 2012

By Debbie Gardner

WESTFIELD — A trip to Stanley Park's duck pond will be just that much easier for individuals with limited mobility this year during the park's fourth annual Wheel Walk, June 9 from 9 a.m. to noon.

That's because one of the walk's highlights will be a second Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-approved ramp at the Asian Garden Tea House, on the way to the pond.

"This is a walk for those who are in wheelchairs and [who use] walkers," Amy L'Esperance, development administrator for Stanley Park, said. "It's their opportunity to come to the park and appreciate it."

L'Esperance said so far 30 individuals — "a mix of children, parents and seniors from the area, most of them [with] disabilities" — have signed up to participate in this year's event, which will commence at 10 a.m.

She said though the walk is designed for individuals with disabilities, it is open to anyone who wishes to participate. Walk day sign ups begin at 9 a.m., and the first 100 registrants receive a free T-shirt.

A picnic lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, pork sliders, popsicles and water will be served for all participants beginning at 11 a.m.

Though the walk is not a fund-raiser, L'Esperance said donations toward the park's ongoing accessibility projects are welcome.

The proceeds from the 2011 Wheel Walk were used to install the second fully accessible ramp to the park's Tea House. L'Esperance said before the first Tea House ramp was installed in 2009, "The duck pond was not available to anyone in a wheelchair or walker."

She praised the work of Wheel Walk Chair Carrie Berrepski and volunteers Sheri Harris, Nancy Bazanchuk and Frank Mazzei for organizing the event and obtaining walk support from local businesses and individuals, including Baystate Health, C & S Wholesale Grocers, Freihofer's, Costco and Ye Olde Butcher Shop in West Springfield.

She said the group, now in its second year of organizing the event, is carrying on a tradition of raising accessibility awareness at the park that began in 2005, when parents Holly Santos and Karen Moriarty — both mothers of children with disabilities — noticed the park did not have a playground that was accessible to their children. They began a fund-raising campaign, which culminated with the installation of an ADA-approved playground in 2009. The inaugural Wheel Walk, organized by former Development Director Patricia Burden, showcased that improvement as well as the first ramp to the Tea House.

For more information about the Wheel Walk, visit

To sign up for the walk, contact the park's Development Office at 572-2900. Individuals can also email reservations to

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