Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is deploying five new beach wheelchairs funded by a $13,762 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy to improve access for visitors at local state beaches.

“Our goal is to make our beloved state parks and beaches accessible to all,” said Bonny Hawley, executive director of Friends. “Doubling the number of available beach wheelchairs is one way we can help more people and their families explore the beautiful coast in a comfortable, safe way.”

The new beach wheelchairs are a valuable contribution to State Parks’ mandate of improving park access to all residents, as well as Friends’ mission of equity and inclusion for all. They add to the five beach wheelchairs already in service. Wheelchairs can be used at any of eight state beaches in Santa Cruz County, including Natural Bridges, Seabright, Twin Lakes, New Brighton, Seacliff, Manresa, Sunset and Palm.

“We are pleased to help facilitate the expansion of the beach wheelchair program at state beaches in Santa Cruz County,” said Eddie Rhee-Pizano, State Parks Lifeguard Supervisor. “This is a great way for individuals and families to safely experience these special places.”

Friends will provide support to State Parks for public outreach about the program, management and maintenance. Friends also is partnering with Shared Adventures, a local nonprofit organization that provides year-round opportunities for social and recreational interaction for community members with disabilities, to provide additional access including multiday beach wheelchair use and beach wheelchairs for children.

“We believe in getting people outdoors and moving beyond limitation,” said Foster Andersen, executive director of Shared Adventures. “Our new partnership with Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, along with this addition of beach wheelchairs available locally at no cost to visitors, will make our state beaches more accessible to individuals and families.”

Supplied by Deming Designs Inc., the new wheelchairs are a standard fixed-frame, all-terrain, stainless steel model, with removable swing-away armrests. The wheelchairs can get wet, but do not float.

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