By Iwan Edwards
OPAL Community Scientist, North Wales Wildlife Trust
One of OPAL’s objectives is to ensure everyone can get involved in exploring and monitoring their local environment.
And it was with this goal in mind that we first visited the Flintshire Disability Forum, a group which helps and supports people in the county who have physical disabilities.
Back in the summer, we gave an illustrated talk about OPAL, providing an overview of all the surveys, to see whether they would be interested in getting involved.
Then in October, we joined the group at Wepre Country Park to demonstrate the OPAL Water Survey. We chose the fish pond at this park because it has a concrete path which provides full access to the pond, and small jetties so that people can get close enough to the water to use the pond dipping nets from their wheelchairs.
It had been clear at the original meeting that some people within the group assumed they would not be able to take part in environmental surveys.
But after trying the Water Survey, many participants felt they had accomplished something they hadn't thought was possible.
The introduction to OPAL resources generated a lot of interest, and the group had lots of helpful suggestions of how to overcome difficulties facing some people with disabilities within the group to further reduce the barriers to participation.
It was very encouraging to see their enthusiasm, and they’ve certainly given us plenty of ideas to consider for the future!