No beach fun for Harry, Russell and Charlotte
A group of disabled people on the island are appealing for help so they can get on the beach.
Quadruple amputee Charlotte Cleverly-bisman, double amputee Russell Schuster and Harry Grimsdale, who is on crutches, can only watch from a distance as people swim and have fun.
Their wheelchairs and crutches get stuck as soon as they reach the sand.
Teenager Cleverley-bisman said it was a situation she’d faced for years and had come to accept that going on the beach was a pleasure denied to her.
Schuster said he’d been advised by his physiotherapist that swimming would benefit his condition.
But without a community pool on the island, and unable to get on the beach, he said it wasn’t an option.
Grimsdale’s condition is temporary but he is missing being able to go with friends to the beach.
Now there’s a solution for them and others who have had to forego what most take for granted. It’s called a beach access mat. Made in the USA and imported in Australia by Floating Beach Wheelchairs, the mat is portable and can be rolled out to create an access path onto and across the beach to the sea.
Tauranga Council trialled one on its Mount Maunganui main beach in December 2016.
It was a huge success, according to council, and local businesses raised enough funds to buy one in 2017.
They are not permanent fixtures - they can be rolled up and removed in minutes.
Made of polyester to accommodate undulating surfaces, the lightweight Accessmat can be carried by two people.
A 1.5m x 30m section would take around 10 minutes to set up.
Charlotte’s mother, Pam Cleverley, is appealing to the community and businesses for help in getting one and has launched a givealittle page.
‘‘The Accessmat kit costs approximately $15,000 NZD for 60 metres (2 x 15m, 3 x 10m), which includes grommets, pegs and so on,’’ she said. ‘‘It would make a huge difference to a number of people, including those with pushchairs and the elderly.
‘‘If Tauranga can do it, then surely Waiheke can.’’
See givealittle.co.nz/cause/ beaches-for-everyone-waihekeproject# for more details and to donate.
‘‘If Tauranga can do it, then surely Waiheke can’’ - Pam Cleverley.