Over the past three summers, floating beach wheelchairs have been multiplying at public beaches on Cape Cod. Soon they will become prevalent along the coast of Massachusetts from Cape Cod to Salisbury Beach on the New Hampshire border. Now anyone with a physical disability who would like access from a car across the sand and into the water can accomplish this task with ease, thanks to the amazing endeavor of two mothers of children with disabilities who comprise an organization called SMILE Mass.
SMILE (Small Miracles in Life Exist!) Mass is the creation of Lottie Diomede and Susan Brown. Together they are raising money through special events and donations to purchase Mobi-Chairs as part of their mission to improve the quality of life - and especially vacations - for people with disabilities and their caregivers. 64 floating beach wheelchairs have now been donated to beaches in 14 towns across Cape Cod. To see the full list of the beaches with the beach wheelchairs, click here. These wheelchairs are always free to use and are suitable for anyone with mobility issues, both children and adults alike. Susan and Lottie have big plans to continue placing Mobi-Chairs along the coast of New England, as well as other similarly inspirational projects in the works.
A recent out-of-state visitor to Kalmus Park Beach in Hyannis had a transformational surprise when beach staff noticed her handicap parking sticker and informed her of the new wheelchairs. She used the Mobi-Chair with her husband’s assistance and was able to relax again in the ocean for the first time in 30 years. As she floated in the chair with a big grin, tears flowed down her face. “I feel free again!” she told lifeguards. These types of experiences, uplifting for all involved, are becoming common along the coast of Massachusetts!
SMILE Mass currently has a beach wheelchair loaner program for anybody who would like to take a beach wheelchair to their preferred vacation destination for 1-2 weeks. These chairs are easily transportable as they can quickly collapse and fit into the back of a minivan. Email SMILE Mass at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a floating beach wheelchair!
Susan and Lotte have come to DCR’s annual Adaptive Recreation Fair in Boston in recent years to raise awareness about their project. They’ve inspired DCR’s Universal Access Program to begin purchasing Mobi-Chairs as well. We have 2 such chairs at Scusset Beach in Sandwich and soon 2 more will be placed at Salisbury Beach. The manufacturer recommends the use of life jackets for those floating in the chairs and it is advised that Mobi-Chairs be used in gentle wave conditions only. With these precautions in mind, don’t miss out on getting into the ocean this summer!!!
Thank you Lotte and Susan!!!