Our Opinion: Nature Center for all

Published 5:56 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

On Thursday, the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center unveiled to the public its new track chairs, and the world they open up to those with disabilities will be amazing and such a welcome addition to the community.

It’s not going overboard to say this is a game changer, while simultaneously not being particularly surprising. With organizations like LIFE Mower County, the autism programming at the Hormel Historic Home, and the work of Cedar Valley Services, Austin has an amazing track record of stepping up and supporting those with disabilities.

This goes right down to individuals who step up to donate what they can in order to make these track chairs a reality.

Track chairs are essentially wheelchairs, but instead of wheels they move on treads that will allow users to experience all of what the Nature Center has to offer, fulfilling a mission of the center to ensure that their facilities are for everybody.

This will provide a freedom that may have been missed in the past and it all comes down to people in Austin wanting to do the right thing.

What is really impressive and what speaks directly to this idea is how fast it went through. John Kittleson came to the Nature Center in May and in November two of the three chairs were in Austin. The third will be here shortly.

Nature Center Director/Naturalist Luke Reese said this was one of the easiest fundraisers he had ever been a part of and its thanks to people who believe in an idea and a cause.

Thank you all who donated money and time to this project.

Mayor Steve King summed it up perfectly.

“I continue to be impressed with Austin,” he said. “I’m just so proud of this community.”