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'Freedom and independence': Phoenix unveils fishing dock accessible for people of all disabilities in Papago Park

The floating dock gives fishing enthusiasts like KJ Jones more freedom and independence.

PHOENIX — Arizona has some of the best outdoor recreations in the country. Unfortunately, as beautiful as the land is, it can also keep those with physical disabilities away because of hills and rocky landscapes.

On Thursday, the City of Phoenix opened a new fishing dock to help bridge that gap.

“A good way to relax, kind of unwind and get away from not answering the cell phone,” said KJ Jones.

There’s just something about being outdoors and casting that fishing line that puts Jones at ease.

Jones broke his neck in a rodeo accident when he was 18 but has never let that stop him from enjoying the outdoors.

Now the city has made it easier for folks with physical disabilities with a covered fishing dock that floats right on the pond at Papago Park, just north of the Phoenix Zoo main entrance.

“Don’t have to worry about rolling down and possibly rolling in the water. Having the accessibility like this makes it a lot safer,” said Jones.

Thanks to a grant from the Arizona Game and Fish Department – the City of Phoenix worked with Ability 360, a nonprofit organization that empowers people with disabilities, to design this accessible dock with a ramp that extends from the sidewalk to the pond, avoiding any rocky or uneven surfaces.

“The railing is nice and low enough someone in a chair is able to cast their pole out there and be able to catch some fish,” Kaitlyn Verfuerth with Ability 360.

Verfuerth says the backdrop of Papago Park helps make the whole experience worth it.

“Not to mention, having a picturesque background of ‘hole in the rock’ Papago. It’s a really neat location,” said Verfuerth.

It also means freedom and independence for Jones.

“Opportunity that I don’t have to depend on somebody else to go out and enjoy,” said Jones.

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