Today we have a great guest blog from Andrew who owns Pedal Puddle Participate, a business which provides beach wheelchairs and a wheelchair bike for hire with or without guide. I was thrilled when Andrew sent me a message sharing a photo of the Duet wheelchair bike which he had just picked up from the Netherlands.
I’m Andrew Gills, founder of Pedal Puddle Participate, a Brisbane-based social enterprise that offers bike rides and beach access to people with disabilities and the elderly. I’ve been following Have Wheelchair Will Travel with interest for some time so am honoured to be invited to write this guest blog.
Pedal Puddle Participate was born from my desire to do something meaningful for the world. At the time I was living as a digital nomad travelling the world. It made me realise that I couldn’t just go about my life pretending that there were no barriers to inclusion. I discovered a need to act on my conviction that we each “have to be the change we want to see in the world” (as clichéd as that is).
My interest in accessibility was sparked by my partner’s work for a disability respite and post-school services on the Redcliffe Peninsula in Brisbane. Through my visits to the service I was inspired by the guests and their personalities. I felt a spark in me that I’d never experienced before. It made me decide to make a career change to work in disability services so I enrolled in a Certificate IV in Disabilities.
I spoke with my best friend about my career change. She is a special education teacher so I thought she’d understand. But instead of championing my desire to work for a disability service, she convinced me that I needed to think outside the box. She told me that I had the ability to do something “really cool”. It inspired me to further open my mind.
A few weeks later I watched a YouTube video of Rick and Dick Hoyt’s triathlon adventures. I’d seen the video many times before and been moved to tears on every viewing by their shared courage and determination. During the video Rick said “when I am on the bike I’m not disabled”. It struck a chord with me because I am obsessed with cycling, especially cycle touring. What really moved me was that there are so many people who don’t have access to cycling due to disability or age.
I knew instantly on hearing this what I was going to do. I was going to buy a wheelchair bike. Not just going to but going to.
Within a week I acted on my decision. I registered Pedal Puddle Participate as my business, took steps to purchase a Duet wheelchair bike (this took some time to complete because the bikes are not available in Australia – so I went to a shop in The Netherlands to have a bike built) and impulsively bought a Sandcruiser beach access wheelchair.
The beach access wheelchair came about because I was riding a fat bike along the beach and a man with a wheelchair stopped me and said he wished he had wide tyres like that on his chair.
Supporting community projects and charities is important to me, so Pedal Puddle Participate also gives back to the community through charity. For the first six months of our operations we will donate a percentage of our takings to Starlight Children’s Foundation. After that, we will select another charity that works in disabilities or aged care.
Pedal Puddle Participate’s mission and vision is simple: … now it’s possible.
To learn more about how you can come cycling or access the beach, check us out at:
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Seana Smith says
This is inspiring to read and I will share it too. My child’ disabilities are not physical and this makes me realise how lucky we have been to spend heaps of time at the beach esp when he was young. Fantastic to hear of more of these chairs and how they open up the beach and the natural world to people. And they’re heaps of fun too!
Thanks Seana. It is amazing how many things have become available just since BJ was little. It is wonderful. Let’s hope we see more and more equipment that enables inclusion. Julie