Licking County’s Infirmary Mound Park just got a little bit more accessible for those with limited mobility. 

The Licking Park District, which manages Infirmary Mound and almost a dozen other parks and preserves in the county, acquired two all-terrain wheelchairs, available to the public as of Monday. April 15. 

These wheelchairs — the GRIT Freedom Chair Spartan for adults and the GRIT Junior for youth — are designed to allow those with limited mobility to conquer trails throughout the park with lever powered, non-electric wheelchairs. 

Director Kyle Lund worked alongside the Park District Board of Commissioners to purchase the wheelchairs, which he says could help improve lives. 

“What better way to open up someone’s life than to get them off the pavement and to have an avenue like this?” he asked. “We want to change lives, whether it be through programming or just better access to parks.” 

The chairs, designed by graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are propelled by users pushing on levers and can be a serious upper body workout, Lund said.  

The price tag for the two chairs came to just under $10,000 from the Board of Commissioner’s general fund, said Commissioner Adam Jenkin, who initially pitched the idea of purchasing the wheelchairs.

Jenkins, a Newark resident, found the chairs after a friend reached out to him about their family member with limited mobility, asking about increased accessibility in the parks for residents in wheelchairs. 

“The board is super receptive to anything inclusive,” Jenkins said. “I think any time you can create more accessibility to parks, specifically [for] individuals with a handicap or disability, that’s important.” 

Though the park district has already acquired two GRIT chairs, commissioners hope to one day have an entire fleet of all-terrain wheelchairs.

“We’re just really excited to see how the public reacts to them,” Jenkins said. 

And, Lund said, there’s already a third chair — a second GRIT Junior — on the way. It will arrive in Licking County in just a couple of weeks, the park district said. 

The third chair was funded in part by the park district board, and in part by a $2,500 grant from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association

The chairs are available for reservations through the Licking Park District at Infirmary Mound Park. Riders will need to make the reservation at least 24 hours in advance, fill out a rental agreement and provide either a driver’s license or a state ID. Children must be accompanied by a legal guardian, and it’s recommended adult users bring company as well due to the sometimes-challenging terrain across the park’s seven miles of trail.  

On weekdays, the chairs can be rented in half-day blocks (9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or from 1:30 -4:30 p.m.). On weekends, the chairs are rented for the entire weekend. Pickup will occur on Fridays between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. and must be returned the following Monday. Rental is free to all Licking County residents and Denison students on a first-come, first serve-basis.

Donations to support the park district’s acquisition of all-terrain wheelchairs can be made to the Licking County Foundation.

Andrew Theophilus writes for, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University’s Journalism program, which is sponsored in part by the Mellon Foundation and donationsfrom readers. Sign up for The Reporting Project newsletter here.