New am­phibi­ous wheel­chairs make beaches ac­ces­si­ble to all

Vuk'uzenzele - - Local Government -

THE IN­NO­VA­TIVE wheel­chairs are “am­phibi­ous” in that they are able to move eas­ily on sand and float on wa­ter.

South Africa is renowned for its spec­tac­u­lar coast­lines, with our sunny beaches along the eastern and western shores be­ing hailed as some of the best in the world.

Ev­ery year, thou­sands of tourists and lo­cals flock to the sea­side to play and cre­ate hol­i­day memories with fam­ily, but not much thought is given to the unique chal­lenges faced by the dis­abled in en­joy­ing time at the beach.

Tak­ing this into ac­count, the Wildlife and En­vi­ron­ment So­ci­ety of South Africa (WESSA), to­gether with the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany Fund, has do­nated “am­phibi­ous wheel­chairs” to Blue Flag beaches in four coastal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in South Africa. The chairs will make beaches uni­ver­sally ac­ces­si­ble to those with dis­abil­i­ties and cre­ate aware­ness around spa­ces be­com­ing more ac­ces­si­ble to all.

The in­no­va­tive wheel­chairs are “am­phibi­ous” in that they are able to move eas­ily on sand and en­ter and float on wa­ter, said WESSA Na­tional Coastal Co­or­di­na­tor Robert Slater.

WESSA im­ple­ments the in­ter­na­tional Blue Flag pro­gramme in South Africa which en­sures beaches meet global stan­dards of

safety, clean­li­ness, ac­cess to ameni­ties and en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment, among other cri­te­ria.

The City of Cape Town, Over­strand, Bi­tou and Kouga mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were awarded the chairs based on their ex­ist­ing dis­abled ac­cess to beaches and their com­mit­ment to mak­ing their Blue Flag beaches us­able for all peo­ple. The chairs will be freely avail­able for dis­abled beach­go­ers to use at Blue Flag beaches to be de­ter­mined by the re­cip­i­ent mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Di­rec­tor for Ed­u­ca­tion and Global Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment at the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany Fund Mike Sch­midt said, “This is yet an­other ex­am­ple of how mo­bil­ity can im­prove the qual­ity of life for peo­ple in many dif­fer­ent ways. We’re happy to sup­port this unique project that will al­low more peo­ple to fully ex­pe­ri­ence the joys of the beach - from trav­el­ing along the sandy shores to go­ing into the wa­ter.”

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