Yesterday at Seacliff we officially launched Beach for All, with the roll out of South Australia’s first beach access mat. The first user was Seacliff Park resident Charlie Rowland who has spinal muscular atrophy and seeing him on the beach for the first time in years was a very special moment, with lots of tears shed.
After the launch, I spent the afternoon as a guest lifesaver at Seacliff Surf Club (I’m normally at Brighton), so I could see how the mat was going and how people would interact with it. It was incredibly moving to see people arrive in wheelchairs or with walking frames and crutches, and use the mat to get to the water's edge. I spoke to people who had never been able to visit the beach before and others who hadn’t been there for many years.
Since October last year, I've been working on this initiative with Surf Life Saving SA and Seacliff Surf Life Saving Club and I have been blown away by the interest and support received from the local community. As well as crowdfunding over $3,000 from members of our community, the energy and excitement generated around Beach for All saw larger donations from a number of organisations including:
- $5,000 from the Rotary Club of Brighton
- $1,000 from the City of Holdfast Bay
- $500 from the Lions Club of Hallett Cove
- $500 from EnerG+ Personal Training
- 10% of net profits for December 2015/January 2016 from Solarsuit Australia.
For the next couple of months the mat will be rolled out by the Seacliff Surf Life Saving Club on weekends and public holidays, between 1.00 pm and 5.00 pm. Once the trial is complete we will take stock of the feedback we’ve received and look to the future. I’m hopeful that we will be able to extend its hours of operation at some point, making Seacliff beach even more accessible.
For those who are on Facebook, you can follow the Beach for All journey by clicking here.
Thank you once again to everyone who supported this amazing project. Make no mistake, your support has contributed directly towards changing lives.
David Speirs MP
Member for Bright