Sensory-Friendly Tourist Attraction: City Walking Path

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Looking for a sensory-friendly activity to do? Maybe in your hometown? Or something simple while traveling? Moreover, if someone is your family has sensory sensitivities, finding an activity can be a challenge. For many people, popular outdoor activities such as swimming or parks are overwhelming. Oftentimes, tourist attractions are too loud, busy and sensory-rich. An amazing sensory-friendly and accessible activity is a walking path. Read on about Harbour Passage, a city walking path in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Additionally, learn how a city walking paths incorporate sensory-friendly features.

What is a sensory-friendly activity?

You may be curious what the term “sensory-friendly” truly means. The term sensory-friendly simply means that an activity or an environment has been changes to be calmer for the different senses. This includes you 5 basic senses: touch, vision, auditory, taste and smell.  Additionally, it also considers your sense of movement, balance and internal body sense, because you have eight senses.

For people who experience sensory sensitivity, sensory-friendly experiences are less overwhelming. Oftentimes, sensory-rich environments cause a high-stress response. Otherwise known as sensory overload. However, it is important to understand that everyone has different sensory preferences. For example, you may know someone that doesn’t like to go to concerts because the music is too loud. Someone else in your friend or family group might not light eating in a crowded restaurant. Therefore, many people enjoy and appreciate sensory-friendly changes.

What is the Harbour Passage?

The Harbour Passage is a red-coloured city walking path located in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. The walkway stretches from Uptown Saint John to the Reversing Falls Rapids. Additionally, the majority of this pathway overlooks the city’s beautiful waterfront. The Harbour Passage can be accessed on by pedestrians on foot, using walkers or wheelchair, or by people on bicycles. It takes approximately 40 minutes to complete from end to end. It is about 5 kilometeres long or a little over 3 miles.

Small rock structures found along the Harbour Passage.
Along Harbour Passage

Sensory-Friendly aspects of the Harbour Passage

Infographic highlighting 4 sensory-friendly aspects of the harbour trail.

Accessibility of city walking paths

So, what makes this city walking path sensory-friendly? First, this path can be accessed on foot, bikes, strollers or using mobility aids like walkers or wheelchairs. The majority of the pathway is on paved, flat ground.

Furthermore, people are able to join the path at different points. Many parts of the pathway are located close to parking lots giving people the option to drive closely up to the path. Also, there are several different benches and areas to sit comfortably along the way. Therefore, if you have limited mobility, you are able to still enjoy aspects of the path, without putting yourself at risk or causing discomfort. Additionally, this is beneficial for younger children and their parents! Ultimately, the accessibility of the walking path makes it a desirable activity for all families and multiple generations to enjoy.

Education along Harbour Passage

Another sensory-friendly aspect of the Harbour Passage is the education that occurs along the way. Yes, learning can be sensory-friendly! While walking along the pathway, you notice different signs sharing information. Examples are the history of the city, as well as the location longitude and latitude, and finally, information about the cycles of the moon. Additionally, there are pictures and sculptures accompany the information. Presenting something to see, and feel, by choice is engaging to different types of learners. Furthermore, it makes the walk more meaningful; it connects you to history and nature, outdoors.

Shadow design on pavement made front metal structure on Harbour Passage.
Along Harbour Passage

Sensory-friendly things to do while on city walking paths

There are different activities to do while on the walking path, in addition to the education components. As shown in the images below, several different shaped metal sculptures are dispersed on the path. These sculptures give people the opportunity to feel, touch and observe. Additionally, many of the sculptures create interesting shadows.

Furthermore, the path has many different rocks, benches and ledges to sit, stand or balance on. Additionally, this is particularly important for your vestibular (balance) and proprioceptive (movement) sense. So exploring these different parts of the walking is sensory-friendly, because you can choose what to do. You can choose what is a fit for you.

The nature sensory experience of the Harbour Passage

Lastly, another sensory-friendly aspect of the Harbour Passage is being outside, in nature, by the sea. This particular walkway runs along the waterfront of the city. The sounds of water, the highest tides in the world, and view of the water is a calming sensory experience. While nature can be sensory-rich, is is also very relaxing.

Additionally, different textured rocks are placed throughout the entire pathway. These natural features allow people to explore their tactile and visual senses on their own terms. Many people find interacting with these sensory aspects of nature to be therapeutic.

Small rock structures on the water front found along the Harbour Passage.
The Harbour Bridge

As you can see in the images, there are beautiful flowers and plants on aspects of the Harbour Passage as well. These provide a comforting and aesthetically-pleasing floral scent and view.

There are many parts of the Harbour Passage that make it a sensory-friendly experience. Consider visiting this pathway or your local city walkway.

Thanks to Elaine Shannon, Fundy Vortex Tours for walking with us! And taking photos.

Do you want to learn more about sensory-friendly things to do?

Then, check out these blog posts:

Illustration of group of people. Ages ranges from babies to seniors. Some people are in wheelchair or scooter, pushing a baby stroller, have a prostetic limb or wear a hijab. All designed in a blue and orange colour pallet.

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