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People can now rent free all-terrain wheelchairs at Georgia State Parks

The chairs have been made possible thanks to a partnership with the Aimee Copeland Foundation.

ATLANTA — More people can now enjoy all that Georgia's State Parks have to offer thanks to new all-terrain wheelchairs.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has partnered with the Aimee Copeland Foundation to provide specialty wheelchairs at 10 state parks, historic sites and a wildlife center.

"Qualifying park visitors can experience a sense of freedom that can be difficult to have in an everyday wheelchair," the Georgia State Park website reads. "The chairs can be used for hiking, hunting, fishing and other outdoor education and recreational activities."

The initiative was made possible by the efforts of the foundation. 

Aimee Copeland was 24 when she got into a zip-lining incident and was hospitalized. She was also diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis - a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly and destroys tissue under the skin. As a result, the rock-climbing, trail-running, backpacking woman became a quadruple amputee. Doctors saved her life, but she lost both arms and legs in the process, according to her biography.

"Being in a wheelchair has shifted my perspective, as I now fully realize the daily challenges faced by people with disabilities. And throughout my recovery, it became evident that physical barriers are not the only obstacles these individuals must overcome. People with auditory, visual, cognitive and behavioral impairments also have unique mental health needs," Copeland said on her website.

Understanding that people who use wheelchairs are often separated from the outdoors due to accessibility issues and mobility restraints, her foundation helped shape "All Terrain Georgia," a partnership with Georgia's DNR to get more people outside and at the parks.

"We have a vision of an inclusive Georgia where everyone has the opportunity to live and play in their own community," the website reads.

The all-terrain chairs are free to rent by eligible users and can be used for other outdoor education and recreational events sponsored by the foundation, DNR or other partnering organizations. 

All-terrain participants must be accompanied by a buddy for safety. Below is a list of locations that have all-terrain chairs.

Those who would like to become a preapproved user or an all-terrain chair buddy/volunteer can do so on the dedicated website. Precertification requirements to use the chairs can be done here.

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