Today we visited Avoca Beach to check out the facilities that have been implemented to ensure there is access and inclusion for all.
An outing to the beach is pretty simple for the majority of people. A towel, swimmers, hat, sunscreen and perhaps an esky (cooler bag). However, for a person with limited mobility the beach poses many challenges.
Our family are rather fond of a day at the beach or even a beach holiday. When BJ was little it was relatively simple with us carrying him to the beach. As time went on and he was reliant on a wheelchair the challenges kicked in. Being determined, Hubby would pull the chair backwards across the sand. Determination can still only take a person so far and with anyone heavier than BJ it would be impossible. Not to mention, it isn’t the most dignified way to travel across a beach. Fortunately, BJ saw the humorous side of it. The effort needed to do this meant that beach visits became few and far between. Thankfully at around that time the beach wheelchairs started emerging and it proved a game-changer.
Thinking back to how it used to be, not all that long ago, I marvelled today to see the facilities at Avoca Beach on the Central Coast of NSW. Hubby and BJ visited last year (you can read about that here) but today was my first visit. Peta, a Central Coast Occupational Therapist, has been the driving force behind Avoca Beach Access for All.
There at the Surf Lifesaving Club were three beach wheelchairs lined up. What a sight – variety! Something often missing when it comes to facilities for people with a disability.
BJ was keen to walk the blue carpet (matting) and it proved to us how much easier it makes access over soft sand for anyone with mobility restrictions.
We noticed during the day how popular the beach matting was proving with everyone. People in general seemed to prefer to walk down to the beach on the matting and many families with prams looked happy with it.
Hubby took the Beach Bomber for a drive down on the beach. The Beach Bomber allows people to self-propel themselves on the beach.
Not being used to self-propelling a wheelchair Hubby declared he needed some upper-arm work at the gym to use the Beach Bomber.
BJ liked the variety that Avoca Beach offers. He had a dip in the rather rough surf but had a swim in the calm of the rock pool.
AVAILABILITY OF THE BEACH WHEELCHAIRS AND MATTING
The life guards roll out the matting on weekends when they put the flags up. It is hoped that in the future it is available on weekdays as well but for now it is only available on weekends during life guard hours.
If the beach chairs or matting aren’t out feel free to ask the volunteers who are most happy to assist by getting it out when asked.
EATING AT THE BEACH
We tend to pack a picnic lunch for days out but if you fancy eating out. There is a cafe and a kiosk next to the lifeguard tower.
In the middle of the day I like to escape the sun and love the fact that Avoca Beach has a shady picnic area which is accessible.
BATHROOM AND CHANGE FACILITIES
Just around the corner from the beach there is a large toilet block which includes a unisex disabled toilet and change room. It is large, has hand rails and a narrow seat/bench. The toilet has a seat back rest.
There is disabled parking in the side street near the beach.
I hope that the Avoca Beach facilities are well used to ensure that councils in other areas adopt an access for all approach. 1 in 5 Australians have a disability so these facilities should be seen as a necessity. Not to mention that it can improve the economy. Prior to BJ having his own beach wheelchair we holidayed and chose day trips based on these facilities. The availability of a beach wheelchair and accessible attractions decided where our holiday dollars went. Of course it should happen because an inclusive society is what we should all be striving for but if it takes talking dollars then why not see this as a way of bringing a new tourism market to an area.
The beach matting and equipment has been funded with a grant Peta sourced and the volunteer lifesavers have embraced the project happily. You can follow the progress of Avoca Beach Access for All on their Facebook page.
If you haven’t used a beach wheelchair before you may like to read my previous post about what it means to our family having our own beach wheelchair. I also did a review of the Sandcruiser beach wheelchair and the smaller Sandpiper in a blog post which you can read here.
NIPPERS PROGRAM FOR KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS AT AVOCA
Off the back of the Beach Access Project, members of the club have started a Sharks Nipper program. It started about 5 weeks ago. Children with autism and a range of special needs are encouraged to come along and join the nipper program. Various members of the community have come together including a Central Coast OT, the Sense Rugby guys, and local Olympians (we have two kayakers in the club) providing support to the children in the program. ( I’ve been told they have a 1:3 ratio of helpers) They set up a sensory tent and get the kids doing all sorts of sand and water sensory activities.
The Facebook page is Avoca Beach Shark Nippers and you can check it out here.
ACCESSIBLE ACCOMMODATION NEAR BY
As we are only an hour’s drive away from this beach we haven’t stayed in the area often. We did stay at the Ocean Beach Holiday Park which has accessible cabins and a beach wheelchair of their own for guest use at Umina Beach and their water park. You can see pictures of the accommodation and read my review here.
If you are excited about these developments then you should definitely be following us on Facebook so you don’t miss anything. Just click here and ‘like’ our page.
We also have an exciting beach wheelchair announcement coming soon so make sure you subscribe to our page to get all the details.
A FEW MORE PICS FROM OUR DAY