According to the CDC, 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has some form of disability and 1 in 7 struggles with mobility, making it the most common type of disability. That means millions of people have trouble getting around, which is why getting onto a sandy beach is either incredibly difficult, or for many, simply impossible.
The solution? Mobility mats. Mobility mats are nonslip pathways that help individuals with mobility challenges avoid getting stuck in the soft, uneven sand, allowing them to access the beach safely and easily. For so many, mobility mats are a game-changer.
The Forward Foundation, a private foundation based in Clearwater, Florida, is partnering with Help Us Gather (HUG) and the Disability Achievement Center to give Tampa Bay cities a unique offer; a blank check to every beach-facing community interested in installing a mobility mat.
“Human equality is one of the cornerstones of our foundation, and right now people with mobility issues do not have equal access to Tampa Bay’s beaches,” says Robin Lally, Co-President of the Forward Foundation. “We want to see beaches that everyone can enjoy and the Forward Foundation is willing to write a big check to fund it. We are hoping this will be an offer the cities can’t refuse.”
According to one popular brand, MobiMat, only about 30 public parks and beaches in the state of Florida have a MobiMat installed. MobiMat reps say the average cost to purchase and install one of their mobility mats ranges from $4,000-$20,000. The Forward Foundation is offering to cover all these costs for cities interested in installing a mobility mat.
“We have seen firsthand how important mobility mats are in creating equity for every person in our community,” says Jody Armstrong, Director of Outreach at Disability Achievement Center in Largo. “Cities that install mobility mats prove how much they value being inclusive for residents and visitors alike.”
”“Human equality is one of the cornerstones of our foundation. We want to see beaches everyone can enjoy.”Robin LallyCo-President of the Forward Foundation
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If you are a community leader interested in having a mobility mat sponsored and installed on one of your beaches, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a resident looking to bring a mobility mat to one of your local beaches, we need your help advocating. Reach out to your mayor and city commissioners, as well as your county and state leaders to let them know why inclusive and accessible beaches are important. If you need help finding contact info, please email us or fill out the form below.