Water Wheelchair Helps People with Disabilities Get to the Sound

Monday was a fitting day for the last of summer, and representatives of the Greenwich Lions Club and the First Selectman’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities shared their enthusiasm for a new Water Wheels wheelchair that will enable more people with limited mobility to get to into Long Island Sound.

Building on the success of the special beach mat that was installed last summer, also courtesy of a Greenwich Lions Club donation, the special buoyant wheelchair was christened as First Selectman Fred Camillo and Parks & Rec Director Joe Siciliano looked on with approval.

Joe Dowling is a wheelchair athlete familiar to those who frequent Greenwich Point where he rides a special three wheel bike that he operates with his arms. Sept 21, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Greenwich First Selectman helps as Joe Dowling tries out the new Water Wheels wheelchair at Greenwich Point. Sept 21, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Joe Dowling tries out the new Water Wheels wheelchair at Greenwich Point. Sept 21, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

Alan Gunzburg of the First Selectman’s Committee for People with Disabilities, who attended with his Fidelco guide dog “Kili,” said the “Water Wheels” wheelchair was a donation that would dovetail nicely with the beach mat the Lions Club of Greenwich donated last year because at low tide the beach mat only extends half way to the water.

Gunzburg, who noted that no group is diverse without people with disabilities, added, “You can’t have inclusion without accessibility.”

“When you want diversity, if people with disabilities don’t have a way to get included, they’re done,” Gunzburg continued, adding that life during the pandemic has been something of an equalizer.

“Many people are getting food delivered to their homes. Many people are taking part in Zoom. Many people are working from home,” he said.

“It’s symbolic not only of compliance, but inclusion,” Camillo said.

“It’s a comfortable chair and we’re going to work on Byram Beach next,” Camillo added, referring to the Town’s other public beach.

First Selectman Fred Camillo says hello to Kili, a Kili, the Fidelco guide dog. Sept 21, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

The Water Wheels will be stored behind the Susie Baker Pavilion at Greenwich Point. Anyone needing to use it should just let staff know at the gate when they arrive.

“It’s first come, first served right now,” Gunzburg said, adding that he would have liked the chair to be available earlier in the summer, but Covid shut down the beach and it only reopened gradually.

The Water Wheels cost in the area of $3,000 and was paid for via Lions Club of Greenwich fundraisers including their annual October grapefruit sale.

The new water wheelchair at Greenwich Point was the result of fundraising by the Greenwich Lions Club. Sept 21, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Alan Gunzburg’s dog Kili, a Kili, the Fidelco guide dog. Sept 21, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Joe Dowling tries out the new water wheelchair at Greenwich Point as Stephanie Cowie from the First Selectman’s Advisory Committee for People With Disabilities looks on. Sept 21, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Greenwich First Selectman helps as Joe Dowling tries out the new Water Wheels wheelchair at Greenwich Point. Sept 21, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
Enjoying the last day of summer at Greenwich Point. Sept 21, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

See also:

Beach Access Mat Connects People With Mobility Issues to Waterline