CQUniversity research project, The Universal Beach Accessibility Hub (U‐BEACH), is about to make a splash like never before with a share in $400,000 of grant funding.
U-Beach will receive $19,991 as part of the inaugural GenQ Health and Wellbeing Queensland Grants Program, which will be used to support children and youth with disability in the Bundaberg Region.
Led by CQU neurological physiotherapy and research higher degree candidate Sasha Job under the supervision of Dr Steven Obst and Dr Luke Heales, the U-Beach initiative has been successful in helping to break down the barriers of beach access for people living with disability or mobility limitations.
Ms Job said this additional funding will assist in expanding U-Beach events with tailored participation and resources for a younger demographic.
“We hosted our first CQUniversity U-Beach Community Beach Day event earlier this year which was attended by more than 250 individuals – many of whom have not had the physical, technical or social support to access the beach for many years.
“With this additional funding, we will need be able to organise an additional two U-BEACH Community Beach Days in 2024 with a focus on improving children and youth participation in physical activity through beach-based play,” she explained.
“The events will involve a range of beach-based activities like walking, swimming, cricket, soccer, sandcastle building, flying kites, and balance and coordination games.”
The beach day events will provide specialised infrastructure including a beach path to support wheelchairs and walking frames, along with sand and ocean friendly wheelchairs to facilitate the beach-based experiences.
“We know from our research that some challenges people face include moving through the soft sand and lack of mobility equipment whilst other challenges relate to a lack of assistance and training,” Ms Job said.
“To address these barriers, we will also provide capacity-building training will be provided to local organisations, focusing on safe beach mobility aid use and manual handling.”
Health and Wellbeing Queensland Chief Executive Officer Dr Robyn Littlewood said creating a generational shift was key to helping Queensland’s children and young people live healthier more active lives.
“New research shows that a child born in the decade from 2023 may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents – we need to reverse this trend,” she said.
“These Community Grants are just one of the steps we’re taking to deliver our GenQ vision so that children born today experience better health outcomes than the generations of Queenslanders before them.
‘These grants will help make healthy happen faster for our state by driving innovation across key areas that have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing, and most importantly by supporting communities bring the ideas to life that will be most beneficial – because they know their own communities better than anyone.”
The U-Beach project was a collaboration between CQUniversity, Bundaberg Regional Council, Surf Lifesaving Queensland, Community Lifestyle Support and Rotary Bundaberg Region, as well as local education providers and sporting clubs.
The U-Beach research program led to the introduction of the region’s first disability access beach mat at Nielson Park Beach, which was funded by Bundaberg Regional Council and is stored by Bundaberg Surf Lifesaving Club.
More information about U-Beach grant funding can be found here.