Beach Wheelchairs Come to Orchard Beach
Specially designed wheelchairs improve beach access for the disabled
New beach wheelchairs are providing access to the waterfront for disabled people visiting Orchard Beach in the Bronx. The Friends of Pelham Bay Park are responsible for the donation. Unlike regular chairs, these specially-designed beach wheelchairs were constructed with three large, lightweight tires that can easily travel across the sand without getting stuck.
That's a benefit for Frank Luciano and his daughter who is paralyzed. He said "when she's in bed and she can't move and everybody else is running around playing, I feel desperate at times." He adds they’ve been visiting Orchard Beach for nearly three decades and the specially-designed beach wheelchairs will make their visits that much more enjoyable, "Whatever joy I could bring to her, I'll do it, and bringing her out here today was nothing but pure joy for her."
That’s the type of reaction Liz Gonzalez wanted. She’s the President of The Friends of Pelham Bay Park. She says that currently, Orchard Bay has a special path known as a mobility mat that only provides wheelchair access to a small section of the beach. "What you basically have are people in wheelchairs stopping at the end of a T." But she says her group’s donation will allow everyone to have “access to the beach on a hot summer day." The beach wheelchairs can be reserved for two hours or more, depending on demand. Reservations can be made through the city's Parks Department.