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SAN DIEGO, CA, March 28, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ -- With its spectacular weather, world-class attractions and endless beaches, San Diego is a vacationer's paradise. No wonder it won first place as the number one city for Spring Break in Travel & Leisure's 2008 online reader survey, and placed in the top five for friendliness in a previous poll. Now "America's Finest City," has become even more welcoming with the debut of new power beach wheelchairs at three major beaches: Coronado City Beach, Silver Strand State Beach and Oceanside Harbor Beach each have received newly designed motorized chairs this month through Accessible San Diego's Beach Access Program.
Funded by the California Coastal Conservancy, the 11-year-old Beach Access Program was started by Accessible San Diego (ASD), a nonprofit information and resource center, to give people with disabilities equal access to California's beaches and ultimately to establish a network of accessible beaches from Oregon to Mexico. The program has been in place at Mission Beach since 1999--the first location worldwide to offer power beach chairs--followed by Imperial Beach in 2001.
The beauty of the power wheelchair says ASD president Wes Johnson, is that it provides unparalleled access to the beach. "These chairs are hybrid of the common power wheelchair used on streets and sidewalks, and dune buggies that are designed to navigate deserts and other rough terrain, so are comfortable, sturdy and don't require an assistant."
Johnson said the Beach Access Program's expansion to a total of five locations is solid step toward the goal of creating full access to the joys of surf, sun and sand, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. "Just in time for spring break, seniors, residents, and travelers with mobility disabilities will have more accessible options in the San Diego region, including already accessible hotels, attractions, tours, and now more truly accessible beaches where they can enjoy the freedom of 'strolling and rolling' on the sand, like everybody else," he said.
Jani Nayar, executive coordinator of the Society of Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH) says the new power beach chairs will enhance the appeal of an already model travel destination. "San Diego is very accessible and goes the extra mile to make people with disabilities feel welcome. The power beach chairs will enhance visitors' experiences even more. A lot of people want to be on the beach with their friends and families, and the power beach chairs offers independence, so you're also free to travel on your own."
Sgt. Aaron Wonders, at the City of Coronado Life Guard Station, expects a great demand for the chairs. "We host dozens of weddings and we get lots of calls from seniors asking about wheelchairs. Now, with the power beach chairs, it's that much nicer and safer for them." Wonders test-drove the newest power beach chair, named the "Stingray," and said it is highly maneuverable, provides a smooth ride, and can be easily adjusted to riders' needs.
The "Stingray" is manufactured by Beach Mobility Inc., which launched in August, 2008. Founder and president Patrick Tallino says he was inspired to create customized power chairs after his first exhilarating trip to the beach in San Diego in many years. "I've been in a wheelchair for almost 24 years, but it wasn't until four years ago that I was able to get onto the beach again thanks to the Beach Access Program at Mission Beach. It was really a liberating feeling being able to get down to the shore and watch my then 7-year-old daughter play in the surf."
The new power beach chairs will be available free of charge beginning on April 1.
Reservations for all beaches can be made through Accessible San Diego or by calling life guard stations.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Accessible San Diego (619) 325-7550 (10:00am-3:00pm, Mon-Fri)
Address: PO Box 124526, San Diego, CA 92112-4526
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