The second beach wheelchair for Byron Shire to be kept at Brunswick Heads for the use of north-of-the shire residents.
The second beach wheelchair for Byron Shire to be kept at Brunswick Heads for the use of north-of-the shire residents.

Beach wheelchair asset for shire

If there’s one thing you should probably never say to Ocean Shores local Ted Kabbout, it’s ‘you can’t do that’.

“That tends to egg me on,” said Ted with a smile, a smile that’s even bigger now that, as national secretary of the Disabled Surfers Association (DSA) of Australia, he has just taken delivery of a second beach wheelchair for Byron Shire to be kept at Brunswick Heads for the use of north-of-the shire residents.

Ted got involved with DSA more than 20 years ago when he had been invited to a disability day and one of his suggestions was met with the famous ‘you can’t do that’.

Rising to the challenge, as well as holding to his passionate conviction that everyone should have equal opportunities to life, led to an ever deepening involvement with the organisation, to the point where he now holds a leadership position in something that began with ‘a couple of blokes’ in 1986 to an international organisation with 14 branches in Australia, one in New Zealand, and others looking to open up.

The purchase of the $4000 beach wheelchair was made possible by a grant from the Byron Shire Council as well as the Northern Rivers Community Fund.

Ted is always inspired by the bravery of many of the people with disabilities that he meets.

“We take quadriplegics out, or people who’ve been injured in the surf,” he said, “and while they may be terrified, they’re brave enough to have a go.”

 The beach wheelchairs are a terrific asset for people of all ages with disabilities, but Ted sees them also having wider usage.

“A lot of elderly people have problems with balance,” explained Ted, “so often grandma or grandpa gets left at home while the family goes to the beach.

“But with the beach wheelchair all that can change – even if someone doesn’t want to go in the water, just the feeling of water splashing on the feet is fantastic.”

Ted also sees the beach wheelchairs as having exciting implications for the whole of the shire.

“One good way of regaining that soul that everyone says has gone from Byron Bay,” he said, “is to shape the kinds of tourism that will be beneficial to the whole community.

“Now is probably the time where council and the community can actually take action and make a difference to create a very positive environment in Byron Bay, not only for people with a disability but the whole community as well.”

And Ted feels that the beach wheelchair in Brunswick Heads will go a long way towards creating an ideal environment for people with disabilities.

The biggest problem facing the DSA branch is storage – they have so far not been able to find a place to keep the chair.

Anyone with offers of space can contact Ted on 66804423.

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