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MiHi eases access throughout area

September 27, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

After 12 years of placing playground and leisure equipment in parks throughout the Tri-State area for those with special needs, MiHi is continuing to break new ground.

"Now we're working toward building three accessible fishing piers in Washington County - at Devil's Backbone, Blairs Valley lake and at the Cushwa Basin," said Mary Pearson, one of the originators of MiHi, or Many individuals Helping individuals.

Those sites would also have accessible picnic tables, for which MiHi has been known since its beginnings in 1987.

MiHi is also looking for new ways to improve the lives of people with special needs, such as the disabled and the elderly.

"Lynn Hendershot got us started thinking about the fishing piers," Pearson said.

Hendershot, a former patient at Western Maryland Center in Hagerstown, is now the volunteer coordinator there.

Hendershot, who uses a wheelchair, said many people in wheelchairs would like to fish but are concerned about rolling off a pier into the water.


Special piers, such as one already in operation at Cunningham Falls in Frederick County, keep wheelchairs from rolling over the edge.

Another recent project that is spreading is porch swings in parks. Many have been erected but still not all parks in the area have them, Pearson said.

"Recreation is a necessity for all of us; it's not a luxury," she said.

A fund-raiser in the form of a Fall Craft Fair has been scheduled for Oct. 16 and 17 at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center on Md. 65 south of Hagerstown.

Country Girl Creations and Friends will present the event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. There will be face painting, wagon rides and kids' games in addition to craft exhibits and sales.

"We'd like to put some porch swings at the Ag Center too," Pearson said.

Another MiHi plan calls for elevated gardens in locations where seniors gather so they can gain access to those gardens without having to bend over or kneel down.

In the past 12 years, MiHi has placed specialized equipment at:

The main thrust of the work is accessible picnic tables that allow people using wheelchairs to get close enough to enjoy an outdoor meal with friends.

The tables and other equipment are donated to the parks for use by all, Pearson said.

For more information on MiHi, call 301-745-MIHI or visit the office on the Leitersburg Pike.

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