Regan Myers, right, of Accessible Oceanside Association, speaks with participants in last year’s Wheel Walkabout in Qualicum Beach. — NEWS file photo

Accessibility week to highlight success, needs

Parksville, Qualicum Beach groups team up to host June 19-24 events

Highlighting recent achievements in accessibility — and lobbying for more — will be the focus during Accessibility Week in Oceanside June 19-24.

Universal Access Qualicum Beach (UAQB) and Parksville-based Access Oceanside Association (AOA) are joining forces in a week of activities, ranging from walk/wheelabout events with mayors and staff in both communities to spiritual and holistic workshops to watersport activities for wheelchair-bound residents at Parksville’s beach.

“We address issues for many disabled people that live in Parksville, and seniors especially, by getting more parking lots, crosswalks and roadways fixed,” said Regan Myers, a longtime advocate with AOA. “It’s mostly about infrastructure, making sure we can get around.”

To that end, AOA has invited Parksvile Mayor Marc Lefebvre and Parksville city staff to take part in the annual Wheel Walkabout Wednesday, June 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.. Formerly called Mayor in the Chair, the event puts the mayor and staff in wheelchairs for a tour that begins at city hall and visits spots of particular interest to the accessibility-challenged community, said Myers.

“The idea is to take those who can make the changes that are necessary and have them experience the challenges we face,” he said. “It’s also open to anyone in the public who wants to feel what it’s like to be in a wheelchair.”

Two days later, UAQB will hold a similar event with Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek and staff, but with a different emphasis.

“This is a day to celebrate all of the improvements the Town of Qualicum Beach has made since last year to support access for all in our community,” said Holly Carnegie Letcher, UAQB co-chair.

The “Access Success Day” begins at noon at town hall June 23 and will feature a tent and info table and brief remarks from speakers before the wheel/walkabout of the town streets begins.

Accessibility week ends Saturday, June 24, with a Walk/Wheel for Wellness featuring universal access for all education tables, the Domes family fundraiser for accessible pediatric and geriatric cycles. The event, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., includes a water sports play day with a customized beach cart and all-terrain wheelchair available to take accessibility challenged people onto the beach to experience paddleboards, rowboats and other watercraft.

Accessibility Week kicks off Monday with a 6:30 p.m. meeting at Qualicum Commons between members of Pain B.C. and local wellness practitioners to discuss a flagship pain management program and holistic wellness centre for the community.

On Tuesday, June 20, physiotherapist Michael Domes and Carnegie Letcher, an occupational therapist, will make a presentation to the Oceanside Division of Family Practice in the morning.

Then, at noon, a summer solstice celebration featuring Laughter Yoga takes place on the grass near the beach in Qualicum Beach, featuring a focus on mental, spiritual, emotional and physical health.