Two beach wheelchairs available at local beaches

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:14 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Lake Altoona Beach and the Coon Fork County Park both have beach wheelchairs available to the public.

Donated by the Aging and Disability Resource Center last year, these wheelchairs work to make the beach more accessible for everyone in the community.

“It makes going to the beach much more accessible for the individuals that utilize wheelchairs,” Betsy Henck, Aging and Disability Resource Center Manager, said. “They’re able to go over sand and water and tall grass. They have much more of an ability to get down to the water for those individuals.”

The presence of these wheelchairs is something Josh Pedersen, Director of the Eau Claire County Parks and Forest Department said is great for the community.

“They’re definitely a nice thing to have in our parks for people who have trouble getting to the water, mobility impaired folks that are in wheelchairs, as it gives them that access to the lake to get in the water and enjoy it with everyone else,” Pedersen said.

The beach wheelchairs consist of five parts and can be assembled within minutes by park staff members. Pedersen said he is happy to have them available to the public.

“You know, maybe it’s only one person uses it per year, but that’s very important to us,” Pedersen said. “It’s very rewarding to us as staff when we see those folks out here using these facilities that normally, under previous conditions, wouldn’t be able to.”

Pedersen said there are goals of adding of adding more accessible resources for community members in the future.

“We are looking at purchasing a couple of paddleboats that are ADA accessible. So instead of having the foot pedals, it would be a hand pedal,” Pedersen said. “We’ve partnered with the ADRC who was instrumental in purchasing these chairs. They helped with the funding for that and they’ve agreed to help for funding on the two paddleboats that we’re looking to purchase.”

Pedersen said he hopes the paddleboats are available in the summer of 2023. Pedersen said if you are interested in using the beach wheelchairs, to call the park’s office (Lake Altoona Beach: 715-834-9042, Coon Fork County Park: 715-285-5336) to let staff members know ahead of time, so they can help you schedule a time to interview the wheelchairs.

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