New Wheelchairs Make Hampton Beach More Accessible

For the first time on Hampton Beach, people who use wheelchairs will be able to enjoy all that a beach day has to offer — including a dip in the ocean.

"Walking by and I saw this and I went, 'wow,'" said Wanda Wilson of Troy, New Hampshire.

It was a pleasant surprise for Wilson when she saw the new beach-accessible wheelchairs at Hampton Beach.

"I have a friend who is in a wheelchair," she said. "He's blind. He's never been to the beach."

Wilson couldn't help but think of her close friend, who lost the ability to walk as a child.

"We want to bring him here, and now we have this," she said, smiling. "He could actually feel salt water, actually feel sand, and we take all that for granted."

It's for people like him that Susan Brown started on this mission to make beach wheelchairs available at New England's most popular summer spots.

"It gives them something that the rest of us take for granted and allows them to make happy, healthy, memories as a family," Brown said.

Brown is the co-founder of SMILE Mass., the Massachusetts nonprofit that teamed up with Franklin Pierce University students to raise money and donate five Mobi-Chairs to the Granite State.

"These are the first chairs in New Hampshire," Brown said.

Hampton has had a few beach accessible wheelchairs like the one 22-year-old Ashley Nelan was riding in Monday.

"It's just nice to do normal things that other people can just easily do," said Nelan's friend, Jennifer Forys of Londonderry.

The traditional chairs though aren't equipped to go in the ocean. But now, for the first time, guests on the Seacoast who use wheelchairs will finally be able to enjoy the waves crashing at their feet.

"For him to be able to sit in this and go in the water, that's going to be so life changing for him," Wilson said.

It is free to rent the chairs. It's first come, first serve and you just have to hand over your driver's license while you take it out.

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