A wheelchair or mobile disability doesn’t have to keep people from enjoying water sports at Boynton Beach - now everyone of all abilities can launch kayaks off the dock at Harvey E. Oyer Jr. Park.
The City celebrated a new accessible EZ Kayak Launch, paid for with the help of a $28,500 Florida Department of Environmental Protection grant applied for in 2015. The total cost of the kayak launch was over $58,000.
Features of the launch include a transfer station. Boynton Beach's Grants and Americans With Disabilities Coordinator Debbie Majors said this allows someone with limited leg mobility to easily slide from dock to kayak.
“It has a series of levels that allow them to transfer where their wheelchair or walker to a seated position onto the kayak itself,” Majors said.
She’s worked for the city for 30 years and loves when grant projects like this really make a difference in people’s lives.
“It provides them independence, which really is a wonderful thing,” she said.
This entire area gives people with mobile disabilities access to a new EZ Kayak Launch @boyntonbeach and @WLRN reporters might try this out! Free, accessible and inclusive #inclusion #southflorida #kayaking #inclusive #accessibility pic.twitter.com/FxsOcRfOSm
— Lily Oppenheimer (@LilyOppenheimer) July 13, 2018
The kayak launch also includes guide rails measured for wheelchair accessibility, launch rollers and a floating platform that raises up or down, depending on the changing water levels.
Boynton Beach locals celebrated on Friday with a group kayak trip to test out the launch for the first time.
Boynton native Michael Welsh said the accessible launch is a great asset that will attract more fishermen and kayakers to the area.
“When I learned that the park was being repurposed for a kayak launch, I had to skip work today,” he smiled.
Steven B. Grant, mayor for the City of Boynton Beach is a whitewater and sea kayaking enthusiast. Before rolling his boat off the dock with the rest of the pack, he said he wants everyone of all abilities to enjoy this same feeling.
"We're trying to remove as many barriers so everyone can have a fun time out in nature," Grant said.
The EZ Dock has already been open for two weeks to the public.
Members of the city's Inclusion Support Team were invited to celebrate and kayak - this includes representatives from The Coalition for Independent Living Options, The Arc of Palm Beach County, Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches, Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at F.A.U, Future 6, Sea Turtle Adventures, The Alzheimer's Association, Deaf Services at Gulfstream Goodwill and the Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization.