Umoja Beachfest is a initiative to provide wheelchair users an opportunity to enjoy a completely accessible experience on the beautiful beaches of Goa
India is on the verge of getting its first wheelchair-friendly beach that will give hundreds of people with disabilities the opportunity to frolic under the sun, in the water and on the sand just like everyone else.
Candolim in Goa is going to become accessible for 10 days during the Umoja Beachfest, which is going to take place from March 31 to April 9.
UMOJA, India’s first platform for accessible travel, and NGO ADAPT and Drishti, a lifesaving organisation that works on behalf of the Department of Tourism, Goa- partnered up to create a beach that caters to everyone’s different needs. This festival is going to allow persons with disabilities to not only feel grains of sand between their toes but also go into the water and feel the liquid saltiness on their skin.
In order to do this, they’ve created a boardwalk that starts from the beginning of the beach and ends where the water starts. However, this is not a permanent instalment because Goa does not have regulations in place to keep such accessible apparatus installed for good.
The three organisations have also created special wheelchairs that will hold the person in place and allow them to float in water, and also with tyres that won’t get stuck in the sand.
The special wheelchairs will be like a beach lounge chair which will allow people to feel weightless in water.
The CEO and Founder of UMOJA, Yeshwant Holkar, told Indiatimes, “The wheelchair looks like a beach lounge chair, which lets one feel weightless in water.”
He said this festival is expected to act as an example for the government and show them that there is both a demand and market for accessible tourism.
Dhruv Shirpurkar, 16, is one of the 100 participants, who will be travelling to Goa for the first time. He’s been wheel-bound for nine years, and though he travels regularly – once a year or so – he’s never experienced sand and sea because of, well, lack of accessibility
Source: India Times