Huntington Beach has provided an earth-friendly portable mat called the Mobi-Mat for easy access for visitors in wheelchairs to enjoy the beach without the usual restrictions.
The Mobi-Mat was rolled out onto the sand during a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 5. This new mat allows visitors on wheelchairs and people using strollers to access the shoreline.
It is located on the beach, close to Pacific Coast Highway and Sixth Street near lifeguard station number six. The mat is five-feet wide and colored blue so that it's easier for people to spot. According to Huntington Beach Public Works director Sean Crumby, the mat cost $10,000 and is environmentally friendly because it was made using recycled polyester.
David Gins, an adaptive surf therapy instructor, came up with the idea of installing a pathway to the shoreline after he had to carry his 14-year-old client, Kukama, from the bike trail circle all the way to the sand. Kukama was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spine and spinal cord form improperly. Due to how strenuous the effort was, he decided to pitch his idea to Huntington Beach councilwoman Natalie Moser. During her research, she discovered the Mobi-Mat. Moser then stressed to city management about how the quality of life can improve for people with disabilities having easier access to the shoreline by installing this mat.
Hillary Tran is a resident of Huntington Beach who grew up having a difficult time making it to the shoreline because of her disability. Her parents could not afford a beach wheelchair. Instead, her parents had to carry her to the shoreline on occasion.
“I feel really grateful to be able to have the chance to go up to the shore on my own. That’s what I missed the most,” Tran said.
New mother Catherine Rodriguez also benefits from the Mobi-Mat. Every Sunday, she strolls her baby around the beach with her husband, Carlos Rodriguez. They both were raised learning how to surf and look forward to teaching their new baby to love the water as well.
“It's a fun little trip we are now all able to take without one of us watching the stroller,” Catherine Rodriguez said. “I think the most important thing is its function for those in wheelchairs. My grandmother will now be able to get close to the water like she used to when she was younger.”