Photo Credit: Marcus Holman Photography; https://www.marcusphotography.net/
The first park of its kind in the United States, JT’s Grommet Island in Virginia Beach offers 100 percent accessible beachside fun for the whole family! While there are ways for those in wheelchairs or parents of children with disabilities to enjoy beach visits, these trips can be a bit tricky if the proper amenities are unavailable. This attraction boasts barrier-free grounds that make a beach day the memorable and exciting occasion it should be.
Growing up on along the coast, Josh Thompson was an avid surfer and frequent beachgoer. In 2006, Josh was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease and, now requiring a wheelchair to get around, Josh and his family quickly discovered the challenges that present themselves for people with disabilities. After a disappointing beach trip, the family knew something needed to be done. Thus the idea for a fully wheelchair accessible beachside park was born. Located on the Virginia Beach coastline, JT’s Grommet Island has welcomed more than 30,000 guests over the four years since its opening.
A Park for Every BODY
Boasting wheelchair accessible entrances leading in to a playground equipped with poured-in-place surfacing, raised sand tables for castle building at a convenient height, a sensory board, hand-operated sand scoop designed for wheelchair users, and a sway boat, JT’s Grommet Island offers enough fun activities to fill up an entire day. A number of sculptures are also placed throughout the park, including a dolphin, wave and surfboard, all of which can be accessed by guests on wheelchairs. A wood polymer deck extends from the playground to accessible seating areas.
Continuing their work to provide accessible adventures to those with disabilities, the Thompson family is currently in the midst of creating another accessible escape. JT’s Camp Grom will be a 70-acre, beach-style adventure camp offering rope courses, trails, swimming and wakeboarding, archery practice and more to kids with disabilities. Development activities and educational programs will complement the physical opportunities at Camp Grom and will ensure kids go home with memories to last a lifetime. The camp is set to open in Spring 2015.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.