Beach Wheelchairs and Accessibility: What You Should Know

Joe Jansen, a lifeguard with the South Walton Fire District, is happy to help escort someone to the beach with one of the district's five beach wheelchairs. Photo by 30A.

In Okaloosa and Walton counties about 58,800 children over the age of 5 and 57,700 adults have some kind of disability. While it’s challenging for ANYONE to walk through sand, for many people with disabilities it’s impossible.

Even if you can’t walk through sand, you can still get down to the water’s edge to enjoy the waves and the sun. South Walton and nearby Okaloosa County have free beach wheelchairs available to help.

South Walton Fire District provides beach wheelchairs at five beach accesses throughout the spring and summer. Lifeguards meet you in the parking lot, take the chair down to the beach and bring you back up at the end of your visit.

“We’re really proud of the program,” said Dave Vaughan, beach safety coordinator for the fire district. “We’ve been doing this for 10 years.”

South Walton was one of the first areas to launch a beach wheelchair program. Still, some people don’t know about it.

To increase awareness, Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast rehabilitation staff, the South Walton Fire District and other area businesses and organizations are hosting a Sandy Wheels Beach Day on Friday, May 19, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Miramar Beach Regional Beach Access.

“The community loves this program and anything we can do to promote it on a broader scale is a win for everyone,” Vaughn said.

Volunteers will be on hand to assist visitors to the beach in wheelchairs. They’ll also have food, games, music and more to enjoy an afternoon in the sun.

Vaughn said the district is working to get additional beach wheelchairs at more accesses and that Visit South Walton is working on a pilot project with a Mobi Mat, which is a long rubber mat that can be rolled out across the sand so standard wheelchairs can make it down to the water’s edge.

South Walton Fire District has five beach wheelchairs available for public use.

Miramar Beach Regional Beach Access is located at 2375 Scenic Gulf Drive. For more information visit the event’s Facebook page or contact Sacred Heart’s:

— Stephanie Borst, PT, DPT 850-278-3770 ext 6  or Stephanie.borst@shhpens.org
— Leslie Moskal, PT, DPT Leslieerin07@gmail.com

Beach wheelchairs are available at the following South Walton beach accesses from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day of the week from March 1 through September 30.

Inlet Area

Access 2 B. Inlet Beach Regional Access

438 South Orange Street Center / Flag pole 1 / Inlet Beach TOWER 1

Seagrove Area

Access 17.   Santa Clara Regional Beach Access / Flag pole 9 / Santa Clara TOWER 4   “Bramble Grove”

3468 E CO Highway 30-A SANTA ROSA BEACH, FL 32459

Seaside Area

Access 30.   Van Ness Butler Regional Beach Access / Flag pole 12 / Van Ness Butler TOWER 5

1931 E Co Hwy 30-A SANTA ROSA BEACH, FL 32459

Gulfplace Area

Access 39.   Ed Walline Beach Access / Flag pole 18 / Emergency Vehicle Access Ed Walline TOWER 9

4447 W. Co Hwy 30-A SANTA ROSA BEACH, FL 32459

Miramar Beach Area

Access 49.    Miramar Beach Regional Beach Access / Flag pole 29 / TOWER 14

2375 Scenic Gulf Dr Miramar Beach, Fl 32550

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