Nonprofit Wants the Disabled, Elderly Closer to the Water at NJ Beaches
All towns along New Jersey's coast are required to offer some type of handicapped access to their public beaches. But getting anywhere near the water is a different story.
A newly created nonprofit out of Beachwood aims to increase access for those with disabilities, one town at a time.
"They have the access ramp which ends right below the dunes," said Jessica Krill, founder of Beach Days for All, whose work at a children's hospital has introduced her to several families with special needs children.
"And then once you hit the beach, it then becomes nonfunctional for a person with a disability," she said, noting regular wheelchairs can't trudge through the sand.
Beach wheelchairs can do the trick, Krill said, but most do not recline for those who can not sit vertically. They're also a large expense.
Starting with Seaside Park, where she was born and raised, Krill hopes to get officials on board with installing a mat that reaches approximately 40 feet from the water, where the disabled and elderly can feel the cool ocean breeze and feel like part of the crowd.
Krill said it's important to note this is not a "fight" for her cause. She hopes to partner with municipalities, and if they're not amenable to the idea, she'll move on to the next town.
Several shore towns have mats installed for handicapped beach access from the road. Belmar entered the 2017 summer season with Mobi-Mats at eight beach entrances.