Friday, May 21, 2010

Time to Plan a Trip to the Beach!

Summer is fast approaching and as warmer weather gets more consistent, most of us start thinking about a trip to the beach. Sunshine, cooling breezes and being by the water brings a welcome relief from our usual routine.

For people who use wheelchairs as well as others with limited mobility, the beach can be a barrier to the water, but not so for those who pick a beach with a good boardwalk or better yet, beach wheelchairs. Boardwalks in good condition and cleared of sand provide great specific access points to a beach experience and may or may not have places to sit. Beach wheelchairs offer the possibility of traveling on the sand to the water's edge with more general access to wherever you want to go, within pushing range. Those who need a comfortable place to sit and rest in order to enjoy a beach experience with the family will appreciate the roomy comfort and cushions.
In Massachusetts, the state and urban park system provides beach wheelchairs for use statewide at freshwater and ocean beaches and even at some spray pools. Most of these beach chairs are one model known as an all-terrain chair shown in the photo. It is a push-style chair with good stabilityand function for all conditions. Other models exist, a few of which are placed in the park system, but overall we have found that the 4 wheel PVC pipe model offers good basic service for public use and requires minimal care. Just keep in mind that the heavier the person, and the softer the sand, as well as grades and distances involved, may limit travel depending upon the condion of the pusher!


For a long list of beach wheelchair locations at state and urban parks, visit DCR's beach wheelchair webpage where you can also find some listings of accessible boardwalks. The beach wheelchairs no longer feature an umbrella, but if you have a beach umbrella there is a place on the chair to mount one. A moveable arm allows for easier transfer from your wheelchair. I recommend calling the park in advance to reserve one at the most popular beaches and times of year. Use of beach wheelchairs at DCR facilities is free.
In addition, on Cape Cod, several towns and the National Park Service also provide beach wheelchairs. A handy website devoted to accessibilty info on Cape Cod is: http://www.capecoddisability.org/
Have fun out there and don't forget the sunscreen!

3 comments:

Marcy said...

Teresa Mackin of Boston wrote in on June 22 after using a beach wheelchair on a trip to Nantasket Beach:

"Thank you for making a dream come true. My 81 year old mother thought her beach days were over until yesterday. It has been years since she touched the ocean. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

intrin said...

there are tons of great choices,but while there are numerous beach wheelchairs out there, make sure to do strenuous research, because theBeach Wheelchair that you choose, will be a great life-changer, and give you lots of freedom over being pushed around. make sure to choose wisely because its your happiness that matters. while you only move at one speed..full throttle, its your speed!

Susan Brown said...

SMILE Mass is a non-profit that has donated 20 floating beach wheelchairs to 20 beaches in 12 towns across Cape Cod. They are FREE to borrow at the beaches.

To see the list of beaches, visit http://www.smilemass.org/beach-project.html