India is on the verge of getting its first wheelchair-friendly beach that will give hundreds of people with disabilities the opportunity to frolic under the sun, in the water and on the sand just like everyone else.
Candolim in Goa is going to become accessible for 10 days during the Umoja Beachfest, which is going to take place from March 31 to April 9.
Three NGOs – UMOJA, ADAPT and Drishti – partnered up to create a beach that caters to everyone’s different needs. This festival is going to allow persons with disabilities to not only feel grains of sand between their toes but also go into the water and feel the liquid saltiness on their skin.
In order to do this, they’ve created a boardwalk that starts from the beginning of the beach and ends where the water starts. However, this is not a permanent instalment because Goa does not have regulations in place to keep such accessible apparatus installed for good.
The three NGO’s have also created special wheelchairs that will hold the person in place and allow them to float in water, and also with tyres that won’t get stuck in the sand.
The wheelchair looks like a beach lounge chair, which lets one feel weightless in water.
This festival is expected to act as an example for the government and show them that there is both a demand and market for accessible tourism.
Dhruv Shirturkar, 16, is one of the 100 participants, who will be travelling to Goa for the first time. He’s been wheel-bound for nine years, and though he travels regularly – once a year or so – he’s never experienced sand and sea because of, well, lack of accessibility.
He’s looking forward to sports that the festival will be offering. The idea of the festival is a very inclusive one and so will have activities that everyone can participate in including beach bowling, wheelchair cricket, kite flying and also live comedy.
The organisers said that they had to face several challenges while preparing for the festival. But finally they have arranged – including accessible bathrooms and changing rooms – what they were looking for.
Let’s hope it turns out to be a successful event and bring all the joy for the participants.
News Source: indiatimes