The Crescent Beach waterfront took a leap forward in accessibility this week, with the unveiling of a wheelchair designed to navigate its rugged terrain.
Equipped with oversized wheels, the beach wheelchair’s arrival was the result of efforts by members of the Self Advocates of Semiahmoo, with support from “all kinds of partners,” including the City of Surrey and the Crescent Beach Swim Club.
It is the fourth such wheelchair that SAS has helped bring to the community since 2016, when the group celebrated making one available to visitors of White Rock’s East Beach.
Wednesday, SAS members were joined at the Crescent Beach lifeguard station by Semiahmoo House Society and City of Surrey staff, local politicians and swim club lifeguards.
Thanks to the efforts and generous donation from the Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo, the City now has a beach wheelchair at Crescent Beach. The chair will be available to use for free throughout the summer and will make the beach more accessible for many. #MyCityOfSurrey pic.twitter.com/20t3ACzS8I
— City of Surrey (@CityofSurrey) July 17, 2019
SAS involvement co-ordinator Charmly Smith said the wheelchair is for use along the waterfront’s trails and sand. Unlike the two wheelchairs now available in White Rock, however, it is not for in-water use, she said.
“There’s such a strong current, it’s not a great place to bring a beach wheelchair into the water,” Smith said.
Smith said talks around a wheelchair for the South Surrey beach began about six months ago. It’s to be located at the lifeguard station, which is situated on the waterfront at the foot of Sullivan Street.
Jill Glennie, an SAS involvement co-ordinator and community development adviser for UNITI – a partnership of Semiahmoo House Society, Peninsula Estates Housing Society and The Semiahmoo Foundation – said funds for the wheelchair came from the federal Enabling Accessibility Fund, under the Youth Innovation Component.
SAS member Sierra Dean – who was recognized in 2018 with Jacquelyn Perry and Alexander Magnusson as a Youth Accessibility Leader – led that process, securing funds for the purchase of one new beach wheelchair and modifications to two existing ones, Glennie said.
The equipment “absolutely” boosts the waterfront’s accessibility, Glennie said.
Dean, who also organized a garage sale to help raise money for the cause, said in an emailed statement that beach wheelchairs “make it easy for us to enjoy the beach like everyone else.”
Visitors with mobility challenges may borrow it between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week; its use is to be monitored by the CBSC lifeguards.