Rose M. Bissonnette
just returned from visiting her
newest grandchild in Hawaii, where his
parents are stationed in the military.While there, she
visited Pearl Harbor and was able to enjoy the entire memorial park with her
family - including a boat ride out to a ship - despite having a prosthetic leg.
But back home, says Mrs. Bissonnette
, who lives in Lancaster, there are few recreational places she
can take in with her
...Mrs. Bissonnette, president of the Central Massachusetts Limb Loss Support Group, has announced a new partnership with the Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln.
The farm and sanctuary, which is part of the Massachusetts Audubon Society
, plans to develop new programs for full participation by people with mobility problems, such as having to use wheelchairs or prosthetics.
The farm, off Route 117, would also make changes to some of its trails and exhibits.
"So people with mobility issues can do everything the family does, and not just stand by and watch," Mrs. Bissonnette
said. Anneke Nordmark, Drumlin's visitor education coordinator, said yesterday that a pilot program, to be tested by Mrs. Bissonnette and other members of the limb loss group, will take place in the summer.
said simple changes, such as adding benches along trails or a seating area during bird watching and other programs, would be big improvements.
"I cannot stand in place for any length of time," she
said. Mrs. Bissonnette
left leg below the knee in a 1997 car accident.
Three years ago, she
formed the limb loss group, which meets monthly at Clinton Hospital in Clinton.It has grown to about 30 members, of whom 20 are quite active, coming from as far away as Walpole, Auburn and Oxford. Mrs. Bissonnette
knows of no other limb loss support group between Boston and Springfield. Her
group has recently become incorporated as a nonprofit organization in Massachusetts, and is getting nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service
.The group has a formal board of directors, a Web site and a newsletter that is distributed to hospitals and rehabilitation centers, clinics, churches and businesses dealing in prosthetics. She
plans to announce the partnership with Drumlin
at tonight's meeting, which will also feature author and chef David Fekay, who wrote "Mortal Angels." Mrs. Bissonnette
said Drumlin Farm officials were seeking an organization to advise them on how to go about modifying their programs and facility for the disabled, and she
was put in touch with them through an accessibility consultant.
"They want us to give feedback on if the modified programs fully encompass everybody," Mrs. Bissonnette