In an effort to create awareness and to make local beaches universally accessible to people with disabilities, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) has donated amphibious wheelchairs to four coastal municipalities in the country.
The wheelchairs’ unique design allows them to move easily on the sand, as well as enter and float in the ocean, giving visitors with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy local beaches.
The main objective of this project is to create awareness and achieve universal access to Blue Flag beaches through improved infrastructure and amenities.
The City of Cape Town, Overstrand, Bitou and Kouga municipalities were identified as recipients for the chairs, based on their existing disabled access to beaches and on their commitment to making their Blue Flag beaches useable for all people.
The sponsored chairs were presented to the selected municipalities at an event held in Muizenberg Beach, in Cape Town, and will be freely available for disabled beachgoers to use at Blue Flag beaches.
The initiative was launched by WESSA, who is the implementer of the international Blue Flag programme in SA, in partnership with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities.
This was made possible with the support of funding made available by The Ford Motor Company Fund, and the amphibious wheelchairs were supplied by Blue Flag partner, AccessRec.
“This is yet another example of how mobility can improve the quality of life for people in many different ways,” said Mike Schmidt, Director: Education and Global Community Development at Ford Motor Company Fund. “We’re happy to support this unique project, which will allow more people to fully experience the joys of the beach – from travelling along the sandy shores to going into the water.”
WESSA National Coastal Co-ordinator, Robert Slater said: “We are grateful to have the ongoing support of the Ford Wildlife Foundation for WESSA’s national coastal conservation and education programmes. Everyone has a right to enjoy South Africa’s beautiful coastline and through this new initiative with the Foundation, financially supported by The Ford Motor Company Fund, we are improving the accessibility to beaches for persons with disabilities.”