New wheelchair helping people enjoy the sun sand and water
Friday 22 January, 2016
Judeland Anthony and Steven Sweeney are two young men who hadn’t visited the beach, let alone ventured into the ocean for many years because a standard wheelchair doesn’t allow them to push through the sand unassisted. Earlier this month, Judeland and Steven visited Tidal River in the Wilsons Promontory National Park and were among the first people to give Parks Victoria’s new Lasher beach wheelchair a test run.
The Lasher beach wheelchair, funded by the People and Parks Foundation, is the state’s first user-operated public beach wheelchair and is another step towards improving all abilities access to Victoria’s parks.
Parks Victoria has a total of 11 all-terrain Trailrider wheelchairs and ten child and adult beach wheelchairs available to explore Victoria’s parks as well as the new Lasher beach wheelchair. The wheelchairs are located at key parks across the state including Dandenong Ranges, Grampians, Cape Conran, Point Nepean and Wilsons Promontory. Last year, Parks Victoria was awarded the 2015 National Disability Award in recognition of the valuable contribution the Parks Victoria has made to improve the lives of people with disability in Australia.
Parks Victoria’s Chief Executive, Bradley Fauteux said the Lasher beach wheelchair is different to other park beach wheelchairs in that it can be operated independently by people with paraplegia and leg amputations without the need of a carer.
“For the first time in Victoria, more people who visit this beautiful part of the world at Norman Beach in Wilsons Promontory National Park can enjoy the sand and water which so many visitors without disabilities, often take for granted,” said Mr Fauteux.
“Spending time in the natural environment, in places like our magnificent parks, is good for our mind, body and soul, and Parks Victoria is committed to making our parks accessible to everyone.”
Mr Fauteux said Tidal River is one of our most popular destinations and Norman Beach is one of the most accessible beaches for visitors with disabilities in Victoria, so it makes sense to have a Lasher beach wheelchair available at Tidal River.
“Tidal River also has accessible park accommodation allowing visitors with disabilities can extend their stay in the park. The Lasher beach wheelchair and the other all-terrain wheelchairs available at Tidal River can be booked through the Visitor Centre here at Tidal River.”
Global advocate for inclusive tourism and Co-founder of Travability, Bill Forrester said that the world, and the ability to experience it fully, should be accessible to everyone and congratulated the People and Parks Foundation and Parks Victoria for making the Lasher wheelchair available at Tidal River.
“We see National Parks as a key pillar in the developing market of Accessible Tourism and as a critical element of the health and wellbeing of the world's population regardless of an individual's ability,” Mr Forrester said.
“Parks Victoria is an acknowledged world leader in outdoor accessibility. The Lasher beach Wheelchair adds another level of mobility independence to an already great set of accessible facilities at Wilsons Promontory.”
Connect with nature through your favourite park. Healthy Parks Healthy People. For more information about Parks Victoria’s commitment to making parks accessible visit http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/visit/improving-park-access-for-all