Dear parents, please keep your strollers off accessible beach walks this summer

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Dear parents, please keep your strollers off accessible beach walks this summer

 

In very simple terms, ableism is described as discrimination of disabled people in favor of able-bodied people. It’s a type of prejudice in our society that doesn’t get nearly enough exposure, which has led to a lack of understanding when talking about forms of ableism or ableist acts. Let’s talk about it more and louder.

 

When I was tilting in my all black wheelchair, crisping (or burning) at the beach the other day, I had a realization. I realized how much ableism surrounds me in my daily life and how I have become complacent about it. Living in a world that wasn’t built with you in mind is ... all the synonyms that are associated with annoying. But, they’ve become normalized so much so that even I overlook it at times.

 

Beach access for wheelchair users is a big topic. Who doesn’t love to go beachin’? Yo ableds, us disableds and our bodies will be appearing at beaches too, so make room and save the stares. The ONLY way wheelchair users can access the beach with their peers, from the comfort of their own wheelchair, is on the accessible boardwalks that go from the sidewalk onto the sand (unless it is weirdly hard sand that your wheelchair can roll on without getting swallowed up). Some beaches have accessible beach wheelchairs you can rent so that you can use to access the sand. The downside with those are that ... you heard the word RENT .. yes. Capitalizing off disability and society’s lack of disability access is a thing. Yes, that’s ableism. Also, they are very basic chairs that aren’t suitable for people like me who are most comfortable in my wheelchair that was fitted for me and my comfort.

 

The only viable option for all wheelchair users is the boardwalks that go on the sand. While these ACCESSIBLE boardwalks were made for wheelchair users to access the sand, patents flood them with their strollers.

 

Countless times I’ve been to the beach and have had to awkwardly wait for parents to move their strollers nervously out of my way so I can catch some rays with my friends. This is a pretty uncomfortable experience and it’s all due to a lack of disability inclusion and awareness. Strollers can go on sand, wheelchairs can’t. Strollers are optional; wheelchairs are necessary. Sure, you might get really tired from holding squirmy Timmy all day, instead of comfortably pushing him from a stroller, but it’s still an option whereas wheelchair users don’t have any other option.

 

So, when you bring your kiddos to the beach this summer, before you start building a 10 foot record breaking sand castle, remove your strollers from the accessible board walks. Keep in mind what they were built for and respect that. I’m not saying don’t use them at all, just don’t keep your strollers sitting there. Instead, put them on the sand and make a little room for your disabled babes who desperately need Marg and a tan, on the rocks.