Imagine a place nestled in the trees and rolling hills outside Merritt ready made for the disabled and their families to rest, recharge and reconnect.
Showers, beds and doorways are designed to accommodate wheelchairs and lifts are installed to move people from bed to chair to bath. The kitchen is ready to stock and walking trails are right out the back door.
And staying there is free of charge.
Such a facility isn't fiction; it's a reality thanks to the Abilitas Foundation. On Saturday, Cold Water Ranch Lodge opens its doors and accepts bookings from disabled people in need.
What's unique about the lodge is it's a chance for the entire family to relax together, said Abilitas manager Rachel Dekker.
"A lot of the time, when people talk about respite, it's about taking a break from a person with a disability," she told The Daily News. "What we've learned, from talking with families over the years, is that families want time together."
It took five years, and the hard work of Abilitas supporters and volunteers, to make the $1.5-million facility a reality. Dekker said the lodge has no barriers, physically or financially, to the disabled.
Many live on or below the poverty line, which is why donations and fundraising allow people to stay at the lodge free of charge for up to five days.
"It's a beautiful place for people to explore," she said.
Dekker said Abilitas provides the facility, overhead lifts and wheelchair access; family members bring their own bedding and food.
"It's not like we're running programs for them or anything like that, we're offering them accessible space for them to get away to," said Dekker.
"Even a child when they are 12 or 13 years old, you can't lift them up anymore to put them in bed or in the tub. People need overhead lifts to transfer a person from their bed, chair or to the toilet."
At present, the main floor Is broken into two sections, each with four bedrooms, and shared common areas like a kitchen and living space.
Fundraising continues to complete the second floor, which will allow eight more people to reside at the lodge at a time, she said.
A similar facility exists in Alberta, and operates with a waiting list. Dekker said there's already a lot of interest in Cold Water Ranch Lodge, so she anticipates it will be well used.
As far as Terry-Lynn Stone, executive director of the Kamloops Brain Injury Association, is concerned, anything that helps people with disabilities is a good thing.
Many disabled can't stay, or can't afford to stay, at a hotel and outdoor retreats aren't designed with the disabled in mind. Stone said this is an ideal alternative.
"It's always a good thing if people can have access to something like that," she said.
Only people with disabilities can book space for themselves and their families, said Dekker. For more information, visit abilitasfoundation.org or the group's Facebook page.
The Abilitas Foundation is a registered charity that works to provide a comfortable and welcoming barrier-free place of respite for kids, adults and families living with disabilities.