Launch of Beach Wheelchairs
The official launch of Sligo’s first two beach wheelchairs took place on Wednesday 1st August. The first wheelchair, a DeBug model, is going to be taken on by the Irish Wheelchair Association Sligo, and was handed over at their offices in Abbeyquarter. This wheelchair will be made available to IWA members and will be used at various locations throughout the county. The second beach wheelchair, a Hippocampe model, was handed over to 7th Wave Surf School in Enniscrone, and this wheelchair will be made available to the public for use at Enniscrone beach.
This initiative is a cooperative effort, with both Sligo County Council and Sligo Sports & Recreation Partnership being involved in the purchase of the specially designed wheelchairs. The two different types being made available should allow access to Sligo’s beaches for many of the wheelchair users in the County. Shane Hayes from SSRP extended a special thank you to both the IWA and 7th Wave for their assistance in taking on the wheelchairs and making them available for use.
One of the wheelchairs has been available in Enniscrone for a number of weeks, and there have already been a number of people who have availed of it. Linda Byrne from 7th Wave said that all of the people who have used the wheelchair were delighted to see this type of facility being made available.
It is hoped that over the course of the rest of the summer season that wheelchair users in County Sligo will be able to benefit from these facilities, and help the Local Authority by identifying any potential access issues that they may come across. Pete Murtagh, Water Safety Development Officer with Sligo County Council, said that while it is still early days with regard to this new service, it is anticipated that with the help of the IWA and 7th Wave Surf School, but most importantly the people who will be using the new beach wheelchairs, the Local Authority will be able to identify areas where improvements can be made with regard to wheelchair access to beaches.
Council members have been fully supportive of the roll out of the beach wheelchairs and already plans are being made to expand the services for next year.
Anyone who is interested in availing of the beach wheelchairs can contact either 7th Wave Surf School in Enniscrone, or the Irish Wheelchair Association in Sligo Town. They will remain available until the end of September.