Beach wheelchair program helps riders enjoy the sand

Each summer thousands of visitors and residents flock to San Diego’s world famous beaches. With an array of options available to have fun in the sun, the City of San Diego takes proactive steps to ensure that as many people can enjoy the sand and the water as possible. The City’s free Beach Wheelchair Program is one such program that gives those with mobility impairments the opportunity to explore the sand and get closer to the water than they ever could before.

All City of San Diego beaches offer free push beach wheelchairs with specially designed wheels to move easily over sand. At Mission Beach, the City offers power wheelchairs which allow the rider to operate the chair independently to provide maximum access to the beach. Power wheelchairs are available free to the public for one hour sessions. Reservations are recommended but not required. In addition to summer months, the program is available to San Diegans and visitors alike from March through December.

The public can check out push beach wheelchairs from City of San Diego lifeguard stations. Power wheelchairs can be checked out from the beach wheelchair office adjacent to the Mission Beach lifeguard station.

“The program is for everyone, from children to adults, anyone with any kind of accessibility or mobility impairment who wants to access the beaches of San Diego,” said Jon Richards, Supervising Recreation Specialist, with the City’s Park and Recreation Department.

The motorized chairs are available from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (closed Tuesday) and 11:30 to 5:30 on weekends. Users need to be able to transfer into the chairs independently or bring someone who can assist them. To make a reservation for a beach wheelchair you can call 619-980-1876 or 619-525-8247.

The beach wheelchair program is a part of Therapeutic Recreation Services, a division of the Park and Recreation Department. Therapeutic Recreation Services provides sports and recreation programming and leisure and outreach opportunities to people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.