What we want for Christmas is an Accessible Local Beach

A Beach Wheelchair for the Children staying at The Wilson Centre, Takapuna

Less than a 25-minute walk as access to beach can begin before indicated point on map.

This is going to be a little different to our usual posts on accessible travel tips and reviews. We are heading into the festive season, a time of giving and we wanted to focus on enabling beach access to happen locally.

At this time of year in New Zealand it’s all about the outdoors with barbecues, family and close friends. Many of us take to the beaches and cool off with a dip in the sea. However, there are still children, adults and families who are unable to get to the beaches due to disability. The disability can be either temporary, long-term or for life.

Over the Summer we have decided to donate some of our time to fundraising for a beach wheelchair. This beach wheelchair will be used for children undergoing intensive rehabilitation therapy at a very unique place on Auckland’s North Shore called The Wilson Centre. The Wilson Centre was originally the home of Mr and Mrs W R Wilson who set up the Wilson Home Trust back in 1935. It was the time of the Polio outbreak in New Zealand. The Wilson’s gifted their entire 13-acres of coastal cliff-top paradise, along with their home for the benefit of children with disabilities.

The Wilson home has become a unique service centre that offers intensive physio, speech language therapy, occupational therapy, social workers, a teacher and nursing care once discharged from Auckland Starship Hospital. Children can live here with a family member for weeks to months rehabilitating from accidents, surgeries and medical conditions.

We have a special connection to this place ourselves, because Finlay himself has spent months here. Many of the families staying are blown away with the beauty of the area. The views are outstanding overlooking Rangitoto Island and the Hauraki Gulf from their cliff-top accommodation.

After a while it’s nice to get out more and step away from the therapy and hospital-style living. A therapeutic walk and wheel along the beautiful local beaches would be great for morale. For families to do this they would need a beach wheelchair or something all-terrain to make the trip. The children tend to be in heavy manual tilt-in-space wheelchairs or hospital beds. A beach wheelchair would allow them to venture out more.

It would be wonderful to enable beach access to happen and that is why Finlay is going to start his 30-Day-Standing Challenge. This will be difficult for him as he has had two severe bone fractures in the past two years due to his low bone density. Before the fractures we were able to do standing transfers, but now, it takes a lot more effort along with his rapid teenage growth spurt.

Donate via Givealittle

Finlay’s 30-Day-Standing Challenge!

We are looking at making this quite a fun and colourful challenge. I have already been thinking of different locations where we could perform our standing time at. We may even manage some accessibility tips and reviews to add in along the way. However, I have a feeling I will be standing Finlay manually with some enormous leg splints on.

This is going to be interesting …

Day One | Location School

For our first day I went into school to discuss Finlay’s 30-Day-Standing Challenge with his teacher, physio and teacher aides. It wasn’t going to be easy to facilitate, as assisting Finlay since his fractures has resulted in needing more hands on deck. Along with his teenage growth spurt and weight gain from his mic-key button surgery last year his standing has become a whole new challenge. Therefore this 30-Day Challenge is not only a challenge for our Finlay, it is also a challenge for those of us assisting.

Finlay and Karen (school physio) are up to the challenge!

Day Two

Stood for 30-minutes putting Christmas decorations up in Reception with Eileen today. This gave a good stretch.

Hanging out with Eileen

Day Three

Finlay got into a bit of a sweat today as he was in a more active stander. This one really makes his muscles work hard.

In my walker/stander today.

Update! After having completed the 30-Day Challenge, the Beach Wheelchair is now for use at the Wilson Home.

Young Johnny Herring pictured below has not been on a beach for nearly 6 years!

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