Thursday, January 11, 2018

Give the Gift of Independence with the HART Travel Training Program!

Travel Training is available for anyone!
Driving to work, the doctor, school, the supermarket, to visit friends or just to get out and go is something many of us take for granted. 

According to different studies, lack of transit literally hurts many Americans. The 40 percent of American military veterans who live in rural areas report much lower health quality of life scores than urban veterans. The Veterans Administration attributes this in part to poor transit to medical facilities. Lack of transit to after-school sports means that rural kids are 25 percent more likely to be obese. And the future will be grimmer: by 2016, 15 million elderly people will be without access to transportation. Studies have shown that when seniors can no longer drive their cars, they cease participating in society: Visits to friends and family fall by 65 percent; shopping and eating trips fall by 59 percent. This lack of mobility impacts people’s ability to get around and Socializing becomes pretty much impossible. 

For many riders in Hillsborough County, HART means freedom, independence, self-possession. It gives people the ability to get out in the community, meet other people, be involved and to do the things that they enjoy doing.
 
Giving people a sense of independence is what drives HART Travel Trainer Mark Sheppard and his co-workers. This special group of individuals are passionate about what they do.  Mark has been a Travel Trainer with HART for 14 years.  

The HART Travel Training program has helped many folks in the Tampa bay area learn how to get around on their own and many have regained their much needed freedom but there is one program in particular that the HART Travel Training program helps out with that has made a world of difference for many. On occasion, Mark has the opportunity to assist the Recreation Therapist at the James A. Haley VA Hospital with the Traumatic Brain Injury veterans. These veterans typically only reach this stage of therapy of testing the use of public transit after 4-5 years as a patient at the hospital, many in power chairs. That’s where the HART Travel Trainer helps out. Mark and his team were asked to help with trip planning and participate in the trips to provide their assessment of the veteran’s ability to navigate a public bus system with the Recreation Therapist.

On a specific occasion, a veteran named Chester, from New York City, was scheduled to be assessed on an upcoming bus trip. As before on other occasions, HART Travel Trainers inquire from the therapist some basic information about the veteran. When Mark, heard he was from New York, and that he was a big Yankee’s fan, it was easy to determine where the trip plan would be taking them. It was early March, and Yankees Spring Training takes place in Tampa. In addition, HART had a Transfer Center within walking distance to Steinbrenner Field.

Let's tag along.


Mark, Chester, and the therapist headed to West Tampa Transfer Center. Once there, they crossed Himes Ave, and made their way to the pedestrian bridge over Dale Mabry Hwy. to Steinbrenner Field, where they were able to watch Chester’s favorite team practice.

We recognize people know HART as Hillsborough County’s public transportation system. However, there’s more to HART than buses on the street, or the bus stops and shelters you see in your neighborhood.

Give the gift of mobility with our FREE Travel Training program. ANYONE, regardless of ability, is able to take advantage of the HART Travel Training program.

Schedule a Travel Training session for parents, children, etc. by calling 813-254-4278!