John Monteith

John Monteith

For people without disabilities, grabbing a rod and reel and going fishing is an activity that can be taken for granted. However, people with mobility-related disabilities face obvious barriers such as difficulty navigating foot paths and docks and boarding a boat. There are less obvious barriers as well. A father teaches his children to fish with hands-on work with the rod and reel. When the line gets tangled, fine motor skills are a must. John Monteith – who uses a wheelchair and has loss of fine motor skills – was more concerned about how to help his daughters handle the bait and tackle than he was concerned about accessibility for himself.

Monteith and over thirty consumers involved in disability support groups at The Independence Center attended the Colorado Springs Fishing Has No Boundaries (FHNB) event at Eleven Mile Reservoir. Peer support groups at The Independence Center frequently coordinate recreational activities and outings for people with disabilities, such as horseback riding, bowling, and glow golf.

This event made fishing from a pontoon accessible for people with disabilities. For John, this was the first time he had been fishing since becoming a wheelchair user in 2011. When asked about the experience, he answered, “The most fun was my whole family was able to go. The whole thing was awesome…. My kids were ecstatic.” He was particularly impressed that the boat captain and first mate helped his children with the tackle. Boat captains donated their time, fuel, crew, and drinks and their generosity helped make memories for persons with disabilities and their families. ~ JT