Imagine this, you’re on your way to the beach for the first time. You’re anxious and excited and don’t know how the day is going to turn out. As you get closer you can see the shoreline getting closer and closer. You finally reach there and eagerly get out of the car to head for the sand. You get on the sand and then almost immediately you start sinking into the sand. You find yourself unable to move and find your day ruined. You may be wondering how you would be stuck.
Well, people who use wheelchairs like me would face that situation every time they tried to drive onto the sand. Beach wheelchairs do exist but they can be costly. They have rather large tires that don’t sink into the sand. Many beaches do have rentals available, often for free.
The problem with them is that for people with neuromuscular diseases like me, they do not have enough support. I need more support on my sides, arms, and especially my head. It would be too much just so I can get on the beach once or twice a year.
In the past, I have heard of beach mats that go right on the sand on some beaches in Florida and California. They are made of a hard plastic and wheelchairs can roll on top of them with no issues. I never thought I would get to experience that but I was wrong. About a year ago, I read an article that they were installing these mats that go about halfway down the beach in Seaside Park, New Jersey. That is a little more than an hour away from where I lived. I was extremely excited and immediately went to check it out. It was really a remarkable feeling to feel the breeze while sitting in the middle of the beach. A couple weeks ago I went with my family and I had a great time. Last time we all went I had to stay on the boardwalk while everyone went onto the sand.
All this was possible because of a mother of two kids with disabilities who started a nonprofit called, “Beach Days For All.” Their mission is to have all beaches in New Jersey become wheelchair accessible. Their efforts are what allowed Seaside Park to be the first town to in New Jersey to install the mats. The specific beach is located at F Street, Seaside Park, NJ.