NC – April 2017 / Newsmaker Alert / The visitor center for Wilmington,
NC, and its island beaches often receives inquiries from travelers
with special needs who are delighted to discover that Wilmington, Carolina
Kure Beach and Wrightsville
Beach can accommodate visitors of all abilities. The Wilmington area
offers a variety of outdoor recreational attractions and activities that
make the destination accessible for all.
MacRae Park, one of Wilmington’s most frequented parks, now offers
an inclusive playground that features a Liberty Wheelchair Swing. This
swing is specially designed for children who must be in a wheelchair and
cannot sit on a regular swing, allowing them to enjoy a safe and fun experience
at the playground. Keys to the Liberty Wheelchair Swing are provided free
of charge at the New Hanover County Parks & Gardens office (910-798-7620)
and the Wrightsville Beach Parks & Recreation office (910-256-7925)
during regular business hours. Several other municipal parks in Wilmington
offer accessible features as well. For a full list of county parks, visit
the New Hanover County Parks & Gardens
Park, home to baseball fields, softball fields and a volleyball court,
is also home to two accessible-for-all recreation areas. The Miracle Field
has a special rubberized turf surface that enables individuals with mobility
issues to play a variety of sports. The bases are also inlaid to allow
players in wheelchairs to navigate freely. This field is home to many special
education classes for children, adults and nursing home residents, and
even plays host to events like the Special Olympics. Next to the Miracle
Field is the Kiwanis Miracle Playground, the largest accessible playground
in the southeast. For a full list of city parks, visit the Wilmington
Parks & Recreation website.
Gardens, one of Wilmington’s most visited attractions, is accessible
for visitors in wheelchairs. Most paths on this self-guided tour experience
are paved or pervious concrete, and there are resting benches throughout
the gardens for elderly visitors and those with physical limitations. Wheelchairs
are available for free check out on a first come, first serve basis. Airlie
Gardens also offers an Accessibility Tram Service for a maximum of seven
passengers. This service is volunteer-based and does not run every day,
so make sure to check the Tram
Schedule two months in advance.
Everyone should be able to
enjoy a beach day, and at Kure Beach, everyone can. In order to assist
handicapped visitors, Kure Beach offers complimentary beach
wheelchairs. These beach wheelchairs are made from PVC pipes and are
designed to be pushed manually, making them easy to maneuver in the sand.
They can be rented for a week at a time from the Kure Beach Fire Department
at . Kure Beach’s Oceanfront Park also includes three wheelchair ramps
for easy beach access.
Every year, the North
Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher hosts Deaf Awareness Day, a day when
the aquarium offers programs tailored to individuals who are deaf or hearing
impaired. These programs include animal encounters, dive shows, feedings,
educational programs and more. The aquarium presents this day with the
assistance of the Regional Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
The date for this year’s Deaf Awareness Day has not yet been announced
but the event is typically held in the early fall. Those interested in
attending should visit the aquarium’s website for updates.
Wrightsville Beach’s Indo
Jax Surf School is committed to empowering disadvantaged, medically
fragile and special-needs children by teaching them to surf and exposing
them to the ocean. From May through August each year, Indo Jax hosts 10
unique camps that cater to specific special needs. This year’s line-up
will include surf camps for children with juvenile diabetes, hearing impairments,
cystic fibrosis, visual impairments, autism and more. These camps are free
to participants thanks to donations
that go directly towards the camps.
Healing is the original surf camp for children with autism, and it
returns to Wrightsville Beach each year. By taking children out on tandem
surfboards to catch waves, the Surfers Healing team aims to empower participants
and provide them with a therapeutic experience from the rhythms of the
ocean. This year’s camp will be held on August 21, and registration will
be open from April 22-28.
Thanks to a $300,000 grant
from Trillium Health Resources in 2016, Wrightsville Beach Park is now
home to an inclusive
playground that features a Liberty Wheelchair Swing. With the new addition,
children at Wrightsville Beach can all play together regardless of special
needs. Keys to the Liberty Wheelchair Swing are provided free of charge
at the New Hanover County Parks & Gardens office (910-798-7620) and
the Wrightsville Beach Parks & Recreation office (910-256-7925) during
regular business hours. Keys can also be accessed from the playground’s
onsite lock box by calling the park offices for the code.
Carolina Beach is home to
three WaterWheel beach
wheelchairs that are free to the public. These special beach wheelchairs
are life-changing for those with special needs who still want to feel the
ocean or even get on a surf board. Unlike traditional beach wheelchairs
that sit high off the ground and are made from PVC pipes, the WaterWheel
sits low to the ground like a normal beach chair and is made from stainless
steel. The WaterWheel is available for rent from Carolina
Beach Parks & Rec for a maximum of five days.
Beach State Park offers several wheelchair-accessible trails so that
all guests can enjoy the natural beauty of the park. The gravel Fitness
Trail features exercise and activity stations along the route, and the
natural surface Flytrap Trail takes visitors on a relaxing three-tenths
of a mile loop through the trees.
Rolls On event comes to Carolina Beach every year to benefit a great
cause: the organization’s mission is to be an epic surf and skate event
for wheelchair athletes. Founded by world champion quadriplegic surfer
Jesse Billauer, this event inspires infinite possibilities beyond paralysis
through adaptive surfing and skating. Life Rolls On is always free for
participants, and the organization also provides adaptive surfboards and
WaterWheel beach wheelchairs. This year’s Life Rolls On event will take
place on August 5.
About Wilmington and its
One destination and four
unique settings promise extraordinary experiences and unlimited vacation
choices in Wilmington,
North Carolina and its Island Beaches. North Carolina’s most accessible
coastal destination is surrounded by water, history and natural beauty
at every turn. From a 230-plus-block National Register Historic District,
to colorful beaches – Carolina
Kure Beach and Wrightsville
Beach – each destination with its own distinctive personality is the
perfect connection to see where the water takes you. For more information,
go to WilmingtonAndBeaches.com
or call 800-641-7082. Find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CapeFearCoastNC
and Twitter and Instagram, @WilmingtoNCoast.
French West Vaughan
and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau
New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority d/b/a Wilmington and Beaches
Convention and Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization
of New Hanover County, North Carolina that stimulates economic development
through the promotion of travel and tourism.