BRUNSWICK, Maine — A statewide program that gives hundreds of people of all abilities a chance to enjoy activities in the beautiful Maine outdoors is expanding.
The Adaptive Outdoor Education Center based in Carrabassett Valley has opened a second facility in Brunswick. The fully accessible center sits on five and a half acres which features a sensory garden.
Programs at the Horizons Center include classes on conservation and gardening. Inside the events center plenty of space for art, theater, and music.
23-year-old Ajay Beaudoin started skiing with the Adaptive Outdoor Education Center's Alpine ski team six years ago. That experience led him to try new activities such as water skiing to rock climbing and learning how to fly fish at the nonprofit's new 3,000-foot day program facility.
Ajay, who has a rare cognitive brain condition, started coming out of his shell because the program is so open to people of all abilities.
"This one accepts all like mental and physical, like we accept one another. It's one big family," Beaudoin said.
There is also a commercial kitchen for cooking classes and life skills. Bruce Albiston founded the nonprofit with his wife Annemarie in 2015. They opened the first center in Carrabassett Valley. Volunteers who often utilize adaptive equipment, teach about 750 participants annually in outdoor activities in locations throughout Maine. All focus on what people of all abilities can do, not what they can't.
"The sense of accomplishment when they are able to do these things...and we have people who help them achieve that, and there is not enough of that in the world," Albiston said.
Michaela Knox is the artistic director. She said classes are inclusive for everyone.
"So if we have one person who is wheelchair, there will be someone in a chair, so no one is ever on their own," Knox added.
There is a nominal required when participants register for programs.