Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

A day at the beach is an essential experience in Ontario parks. There’s almost nothing better than sunbathing, relaxing in the sand, or playing in the water with friends and family.

This summer, John Cairns of the Wheelchair of Hope Foundation helped make this possible for all visitors to North Beach Provincial Park by donating two wheelchair-accessible Mobi-Mats.

Beach Accessibility

For those who need a wheelchair or walker, and even those with strollers, getting to the beach can be a challenge. The wheels can sink into the sand, making it difficult to move. That’s why Ontario Parks has made beach accessibility a priority whenever possible.

Donating two Mobi-Mats to North Beach Provincial Park will help people with mobility issues enjoy the sun and sand of a day at the beach.

Access for all visitors.

Photo of the presenter and donated Mobi-mats.Left: John Cairns, founder of the Wheelchair of Hope Foundation, delivers remarks at the Mobi-Mats opening ceremony

What is a Mobi-Mat?

It is a non-slip roll-up access mat for beaches. Helps those with walkers, wheelchairs and strollers avoid walking through sand and get to the water’s edge quickly and safely.

“This not only improves access to mobility, but also has a ripple impact in our communities toward increased tourism and local economy,” Cairns said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the park on Aug. 1, 2019. “It’s a great victory for everything.”

An incredible story

Left: Mount Everest Base Camp summit photo by John Right: Park visitors using Mobi mats

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Twenty-six years ago, Mr. Cairns was hit by a train while working and suffered a double amputation. But he describes this event as a gift, a change of perspective.

She beat the odds to survive and took advantage of her second chance at life: she ran Terry Fox marathons, learned to play squash, scuba-dived, snowboarded and even hiked Mount Kilimanjaro.

He founded the Wheelchair of Hope Foundation five years ago. Their mission is to help people living with disabilities gain the opportunity that comes with mobility and independence.

The foundation provides gently used mobility equipment to Canadians who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Individual donors, hospitals and other nonprofit organizations donate wheelchairs, power chairs and walkers so the Wheelchair of Hope Foundation can find them a deserving new home.

The foundation raised funds for Mobi-Mats through its annual gala.

Thank you Mr Cairns!

Mr. Cairns’ work has been widely recognized for the lives he has changed.

She worked closely with the Belleville City Council on their Accessibility Advisory Council to advocate for greater inclusion in her hometown. In 2016, she received the Peter Soumalias Unsung Hero Honor award through the Canadian Walk of Fame. And in 2018, he was named an honorary colonel of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Mr Cairns says he hopes the Mobi-mats will help more people enjoy the beautiful North Beach boardwalk.

Ontario Parks thanks you for your generous donation, Mr. Cairns!

If you are considering making a donation to Ontario Parks or would like to support projects like these in the future, please contact us by email here.