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Conservation program in La Crosse hopes to help people of all abilities

Associated Press



WisCorps is located at the Myrick Hixon Eco Center.

An environmental conservation program based in La Crosse plans to be one of the first in the nation to expand its work opportunities and environmental education program to people of all abilities.

WisCorps at has hired someone with a visual impairment and another person with a physical disability to work on erosion control and planting in neighborhood parks, and building accessible gardens this summer.

WisCorps Executive Director Matthew Brantner said the group is being called the Inclusive Crew.

“Whether it’s a physical barrier or just a barrier to entry into the workforce, we want to be able to remove that and get young people into the workforce and have young people of all abilities come in and conserve our state’s natural resources and revitalize our communities,” he said.

The goal is to expand the concept to all of the program’s work crews by next summer, he said.

More than 40 percent of people with disabilities in the state are unemployed, according to 2016 statistics.

Inclusive Crew program coordinator Andrea Frisch says she hopes to make nature available to everyone.

“Scientifically, there are studies that say spending time in nature you have better outcomes for stress management,” she said. “Some individuals with different disabilities, for example autism, being outdoors and doing nature activities helps people focus and helps people experience things that they wouldn’t typically experience.”

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