ON A MISSION: Shore woman works to make beaches more accessible
The following has been submitted by Jessica Miscio, a mother of two special needs children and an advocate. She is currently working with Seaside Park to make its beaches more accessible. She’s featured below with her children.
I graduated in 1985 from Seaside Park Elementary School. Growing up by the beach was a huge part of my life and still is today. The beach is someplace that brings me peace and serenity.
It upsets me that so many families of children with special needs cannot take their child to the beach. There is no easy access to the beach for a child in a wheelchair.
What some beaches call handicap accessible is a ramp leading to right below the dunes where it’s 100 degrees. That is where they want you, your family and your child in a wheelchair to sit.
After doing some research, I realized that Ocean County has the least amount of handicap accessible beaches. I can tell you that Island Beach State Park fills up very quickly and for a family trying to get a child ready with the wheelchair and everything else that they need to pack they are not always the first ones at the gate.
When I say handicap accessible I mean where you can actually bring your child closer to the water so they can feel the ocean breeze on their face too.
As I posted this on my Facebook where I promote a lot of inclusion and special needs resources. I got a lot of feedback from people who were amputees, grandparents and others who just cannot get down to the beach.
There’s a wonderful invention called MobiMats that facilitate access and allow families to sit on the beach where everybody else does.
As for the beach wheelchairs that are made out of PVC, they are wonderful for a person who can sit upright. However, many of the families that I am talking about have a family member cannot sit vertical. They have to be semi-reclined and those chairs as you know do not recline.
In this day and age inclusion for all is extremely important. I have made it my mission to make sure that we as a society make inclusion an important part of our community.
I will go up and down from South Seaside Park to Point Pleasant if I have to. Someone has to listen. Thank you for listening.
Image: NYC Parks Dept