On July 2, the Sabrina Cohen Foundation will be opening an accessible beach to the public, funded by grants from the Craig H. Nielsen Foundation and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation for all citizens of Miami Beach to come and enjoy. Sabrina Cohen, CEO & Founder, created the Foundation in 2006 a few years after sustaining a C3-5 level injury in a car accident at the age of 14. Originally she focused on funding research and educating the public, but then saw the array of needs she could help fill with her organization.
“Recognizing a need for quality-of-life initiatives, in 2012, I expanded the mission of my organization to include more adaptive fitness and recreational opportunities for our disabled community, realizing that a lot could be done to meet an unmet need of helping people stay both mentally and physically strong,” Sabrina said. “While developing the adaptive beach concept, people from all over the country reached out to me interested in coming down to Miami beach to either live or visit.”
The idea of developing an accessible beach stemmed from her own personal experiences. Being born and raised in Florida, the beach was a part of Sabrina Cohen’s childhood. However, after sustaining her injury, she knew that it was no longer an activity she could enjoy due to issues with inaccessibility in the community.
“A few years ago I went to the beach with a friend because it was such a beautiful day out and when I reached the end of the Mobi Mat (which ends at the dune) I really wanted to go further to get closer to the water,” she explained. “I attempted to roll my electric chair over the sand, and what do you know, I got stuck! It took a handful of strong guys to get me out, which was both embarrassing and upsetting. It was that moment that I realized more could be done and should be done.”
Now, Sabrina is determined to bring the fun of a day at the beach to everyone despite their level of ability. The adaptive beach includes extended access mats and a decking platform mid beach and close to the water’s edge to allow individuals an independent way to hang out on the beach. Attendees will also have access to electric beach wheelchairs to take a stroll on the sand.
Along with beach friendly equipment, the location will have bi-weekly Saturday programs for the community including art therapy, adaptive meditation, yoga and adaptive water sports such as scuba diving and surfing.
“The ultimate goal of this adaptive beach project is to get as many people with mobility issues into the ocean and enjoying outdoor recreation activities like everyone else. With time and proper support, my goal is to grow this program in the city of Miami Beach to the point where we can handle both residents and visitors on a regular basis several times a month, with qualified staff and personnel to help get people into beach wheelchairs and swimming in the ocean.”
Be sure to check out the event if you are in the Miami Beach area for the July Fourth weekend:
WHEN: July 2, 2016
11 A.M. to 3 P.M.
WHERE: 6475 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33141
by Reeve Staff