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Community support for day at the beach

Demonstrations, entertainment and food made for a special International Day of People with Disability event in Whyalla

The welcome mat was rolled out, literally, for a big crowd at Whyalla’s International Day of People with Disability (IDoPwD) event on Sunday at the foreshore.

Organised by the Whyalla Youth Advistory Committee (YAC), one of the features of the day was a demonstration of the beach mats for people with mobility issues.. A brilliantly simple idea, that allows better access to the beach for a range of people with mobility issues, had a good test run as did the beach mobility chairs that were brought along.

eventCyanne Westerman, who came up with the idea of the local day on the beach, was one of those who tested out the mats in her motorised wheelchair. Cyanne’s twin sister Zia, who also lives with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, also tested the mats and gave them the thumbs up.

City of Whyalla Youth Development Officer Gail Rostig said it was an emotional time for everyone present as the twins were able to venture on to the beach for the first in 16 years.

“There were a lot of tears and a lot of very happy people there as Cyanne and Zia tested out the mats,” Gail said.

“It was just a fantastic day and no-one wanted to leave.”

The event started in cold and windy conditions but that didn’t stop a good crowd of more than 350 turning out to the Whyalla IdoPwD event. Deputy Mayor Jenny Barnes opened the event and was joined by councillor David Knox as the clouds cleared and the celebrations really kicked in with the demonstrations, activities, music and food.

Also getting a trial run were the three beach wheelchairs purchased by the Whyalla Access Group and some different models brought along by private company Push Mobility. Care providers were there to provide information while community groups catered for the event and young local performers Emily Rawlings, Jasmine Moder and Brie Ryan supplied the entertainment.

“There was so many carers and families that brought their loved ones along,” Gail said.

“It was a good opportunity for people to mingle, learn and get to know other people in the community.

“The equipment was fantastic, the mats were so simple to use and the wheelchairs were amazingly light and easy to use too.”

The City of Whyalla is now looking into the logistics of the rollout mats. The day was supported by many community groups including the Whyalla Surf Life Saving Club.

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