Ocean open to everyone thanks to beach wheelchair

Juliana Carvalho enjoying her beach wheelchair. Supplied photo.

Wheelchair-bound visitors to Papamoa Beach can now get into the water thanks to new beach wheelchairs.

Juliana Carvalho, who has been in a wheelchair for the last 20 years, says before last year she hadn’t been in the ocean for three years, and could only go as far as the sand.

She recently holidayed in Papamoa, and was able to get back into the water thanks to Papamoa Surf Life Saving Clubs’ new beach wheelchairs.

She says it was the highlight of her trip.

“Summer time is a time when I get frustrated because I can’t fully participate but now I can fully enjoy it.

“I was really amazed because it’s really hard when you can’t participate fully.”

According to Julia, the chair donated by Rotary had been there for about a year but says she was told she was the first person to have used it.

Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club president Andrew Hitchfield says the club has two beach buggies available for use.

One was donated by Papamoa Rotary, while the other was donated by Peter and Julie Renouf of Medix 21 - a supplier of assistive technologies.

The chairs were donated in December last year.

“We really believe everyone should have access to the beach and into the water,” says Andrew.

He says previously people would ask the lifeguards for rides down to the sand, which they were happy to do, but then they had the issue of getting into the water.

Now the public can borrow the beach buggies for free and get themselves right into the water.

He says the club is ‘stoked’ to be able to offer the service.

Andrew says water rehabilitation is an “absolute major” for people.

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Posted on 20-01-2021 15:32 | By Bob Landy

What a great idea. Well done to all involved. Let’s hope that this catches on around the country and around the world. So nice to read some good news.

Tom Ranger

Posted on 20-01-2021 12:12 | By Tom Ranger

What a brilliant idea! Well done! I saw elsewhere they installed mats to get down to the beaches and they had (surprise surprise) been washed away and caused an injury to someone walking and tripping on it! Anyway...great work.

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