Their happiness knew no bounds. It was a cloudy evening on Dec.3, the International Day of Disabled Persons.
Smiles and giggles filled this part of Marina near Gandhi statue. Enjoying on the new beach wheelchairs were the differently-abled persons who had had a good time at Marina’s waterfront this morning.
They were busy taking selfies with the ballon wheelchairs even past 6.30 p.m. For it had helped them get an entire beach experience today. “I could go to any part of the beach, ” said a young wheelchair-bound girl in disbelief.
Kumar, another wheelchair user said, “We will cherish this moment for our entire life.”
58-year-old Anandhi had nothing much to say. She kept repeating, “I’m very happy,” even as her husband helped her cross the temporary pathway here. “She was visiting the beach after several years now. I wish they (disabled persons) could enjoy this facility daily, ” said her husband Krishnamurthy.
He also said that a number of disabled-friendly toilets and ramps were necessary.”It will help us spend more time here,” he said.
Interestingly, many beachgoers including children and seniors were seen using the temporary pathway. “It is much easier to cross the beach this way, ” said Nirmala, a senior.
Every year on this day, a temporary pathway is laid to help differently-abled persons access the Marina beach. This time, the Chennai Corporation has procured the beach wheelchairs.
Says Smitha Sadasivan, a member of Disability Rights Alliance, “Over 300 students from our school Vidya Sagar enjoyed at the beach today.” Vidya Sagar is a school in Kotturpuram for children with multiple disabilities.
For several years now, the Disability rights activists are working with the Corporation to get disabled-friendly toilets and ramps at Marina. They are also trying to make the pathway and wheelchairs a permanent feature here.
However, the Corporation officials say these facilities would come only after it gets CRZ (Coastal regulation zone) clearance.
When asked when would that happen, a Corporation engineer who supervises this area says, “Hopefully before World Disability Day 2020.”
The temporary pathway and beach wheelchairs will be present at Marina for one more week.