John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Disability-friendly beach viewing platform to open

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A brainwave by former TV personality and newsreader Tom Bradley has blossomed into the construction of a disability-friendly coastal viewing platform at Papamoa.

''It was a wonderful partnership that started with Tom Bradley,'' the chairman of Tauranga City Council's disability advisory committee Paul Curry said.

Mr Bradley, who described himself as an arthritic amputee, told his friend that there was nowhere along the beachfront where a disabled person unable to access the dunes could enjoy sea views.

The Papamoa resident who read the TV news for 25 years got an engineer friend to draw a picture of how it could look and enlisted the help of Tauranga's Disabled Persons Assembly.

Mr Curry said the Assembly took it from there and approached the council which immediately saw its potential as a project for one of its city partners.

Construction of the platform on Karewa Parade turned into a collaboration between the council and HEB Construction, with HEB building the platform at no cost to the community.

The low-key opening at 11am tomorrow would be the culmination of months of planning. Mr Curry said the viewing platform would also feature a large wheelchair-friendly picnic table

The council's Project Tauranga manager Michael Vujnovich said it was a real team effort. ''I have to hand it to HEB, they did a marvellous job.''

Tomorrow's disability theme will also feature the Tauranga launch of EmployAbility by Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller.

The launch at Trinity Wharf Hotel will outline the Ministry of Social Development's initiative to get more disabled people and those with health conditions into sustainable work.

Mr Curry is a guest speaker along with Kiwibank's New Zealander of the Year Selwyn Cook who has championed the employment of disabled people.

Tomorrow's events take place the day before the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Disabled people will be able to trial a special beach access mat at Mount Main Beach on Saturday December 10 and Pilot Bay on Sunday December 11. The demonstration will coincide with water sports events for physically disabled people, with surfing on Saturday and paddle boarding and waka ama on Sunday.

Tauranga disabled initiatives - the details
Tauranga EmployAbility launch: December 2, Trinity Wharf Hotel, 8.30am-9.30am Disabled-friendly viewing platform opening: Karewa Parade, December 2, 11am
Beach access mat trial and surfing: Mount Main Beach, December 10, 11am-2pm
Beach access mat trial and waka ama and paddle boarding: Pilot Bay, December 11, 11am-2pm

- Bay of Plenty Times

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