The beach is one of the best places to spend time with family and friends or have fun during the weekends or holidays. And swimming is one of the most enjoyable activities many love to do. Good thing there are already beaches that are accessible for differently-abled individuals and also devices that allow these people to go swimming and enjoy the waves and the salty water.
Just last September 2, 2015, several Israelis with physical disabilities were able to enjoy the beach. To some of them, it was their first time to go to the beach and swim. A number of unique and special amphibious wheelchairs were provided that allowed them to paddle and have fun in the sea. Thanks to the Blue-Flag Program and the Netanya Municipality that organized the single-day event.
The Blue Flag is an international award given to beaches that were able to meet excellence in the areas of amenities, safety, environmental and cleanliness standards. The Foundation for Environmental Education, the Blue Flag campaign’s international coordinators in Europe, set the strict criteria or imposed the many requirements of the program in order to highly promote environmental awareness in marinas and beaches globally.
The concept of the blue flag started in France. In 1985, the blue flag award or eco-label was granted to French coastal munici 2330 palities for excellently complying with bathing water quality and sewage treatment criteria. In 1987, the eco-label was given to 208 marinas and 244 beaches in about 10 European nations.
As of today, there are already 32 requirements or criteria that a certain beach or marina must meet in order to be awarded the blue flag. And one of the requirements is the accessibility of the beach for differently-abled people.
The Netanya Municipality teamed up with the Blue-Flag program for the one-day event in order to raise awareness to the public regarding the accessibility of beaches in Israel for wheelchair users and for the entire disabled community.
Today, about 25 beaches in Israel already achieved a blue flag, and 23 of which are wheelchair-accessible including Haifa, Eilat, and Tel Aviv. These beaches also have disabled parking areas with special pavilions with concrete floors so that standard or conventional wheelchairs can get there.
The wheelchair-accessible beaches also offer or provide the amphibious wheelchairs so that the differently-abled guests can fully enjoy their day at the beach. The amphibious chairs were already available in Israel more than a decade ago.
With the event organized, about a dozen of differently-abled Israelis were able to have a fun day at the beach for free. For them, it was a very memorable experience.