A beach worker helps a wheelchaired man reach the sea on a disability-friendly public beach in Alexandria, Egypt, on Aug. 17, 2021. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Wheelchaired Abdel-Rahman Mohammed, 12, swam happily and comfortably at Alexandria's al-Mandara beach, a disability-friendly public beach in Egypt.
"I'm extremely happy because the government has provided people with disabilities with this beach," Mohammed told Xinhua as he joyfully swam with the help of one of the beach's workers.
Before this beach was designed, it was difficult for Mohammed and thousands of people with disabilities in Alexandria to walk or use their wheelchairs to reach the sea.
However, the recent construction of a concrete ramp that extends to the shore of al-Mandara beach made it accessible for persons with disabilities.
"Beach workers are helpful... they help us change our clothes, push the wheelchairs for us, lift us into the water and even help us while swimming," Mohammed added. "I barely came to swim in the sea in the past, but now I can come whenever I want."
For Ahmed Salah, a 27-year-old wheelchaired man, the new disability-friendly beach made him go to the sea with his friends at least once a week.
"Wheelchair users in Alexandria have always sought to swim in public beaches, but this was a very tough task for them," Salah told Xinhua as he prepared himself to use the ramp.
He noted that the services the beach provides are unique, pointing out that the new beach has made him feel that the government really cares for people with disabilities.
"Even the toilets are well equipped to serve people with wheelchairs. I hope all coastal cities in Egypt will have similar facilities for the disabled," Salah said.
The initiative was first launched by the People of Challenge Association in Alexandria, and the governorate responded to the appeal by preparing the beach to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
"This move was important and necessary as it helps people with disabilities integrate into the society," Ragab Gouda, head of the association told Xinhua.
Gouda noted that the beach now stands an example of social integration as a large part of it is allocated for people with disabilities.
Meanwhile, supervisor of al-Mandara public beach, Tarek Lashin, said the governor of Alexandria gave his directions to allocate and prepare a section of the beach for the people with disabilities once he received appeals from some local NGOs advocating disabilities issues.
"People with disabilities have the right to enjoy the beaches and swim like other people. That is why we have prepared this beach for them," Lashin told Xinhua.
He noted that the beach workers provide people with disabilities with everything they will need to enjoy staying by the beach.
"We provide them with wheelchairs, help them change their clothes before taking them down to the sea, and also help them swim. We do all of this for free," Lashin said. Enditem