Holiday weekend beach-goers to Browne’s Beach were greeted by an unusual and refreshing sight as about a dozen members of the Barbados disabled community took to the sea.
The recreational activity was an initiative of the Barbados Council For The Disabled (BCD) Breakfast Club for girls and women with disabilities, that was established last month in observance of International Women’s Day with the intention of involving club members on a number of educational programmes. The information will be passed on to other community groups or organisations.
A major objective of the Saturday beach visit by the Breakfast Club was to train members in the use of two specially designed beach wheel chairs, donated by the Barbados Rotary, also last month.
Though almost all the club members on a number of occasions before have had sea baths – and swims for some – the holiday weekend visit was the first venture for Thelma Vaughn Memorial Home resident Tracey Lorde, who is in her late 30s.
At the time of the Rotary handover of the wheelchairs, BCD president Senator Kerryann Ifill had spoken of difficulties and restrictions encountered by council members when attempting to get access to the beach.
“Through the donation of these beach wheelchairs, we will provide the opportunity for other persons with disabilities to go out on the beach and repeat like Gabby, dah beach is mine,” she said at that time.
BCD administration project officer, Rose-Ann Foster-Vaughn told
Barbados TODAY Saturday: “Persons with disabilities, because of physical challenges, they can’t come out and enjoy the beaches, but now with the council beach wheelchairs they are able to come out and be a part of the crowd having a good sea bath.”
BCD volunteer and Ministry of Tourism development officer Maureen Bridgeman was at Brown’s Beach Saturday and said that facilitating disabled persons on the beach has also become a part of the Barbados tourism product offering. She said there are a few other beach wheelchairs on the island and gave recent examples of disabled visitors vowing to return.
“Without these beach wheelchairs they wouldn’t have had such a good holiday,” she said.
She explained that there are plans to introduce to Barbados lifeguards rescuing techniques specially for disabled persons.
“Hopefully in this financial year, the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the Barbados Council For The Disabled is going to train some lifeguards, 40 of them, on how to save persons with physical disabilities from the water.”