The Volga River in Samara, Russia is known for its beautiful banks and open spaces for the city residents to enjoy the sun and water. This July the popular spot was opened up to people with disabilities.

The Samara MS Organization (part of the Russian MS Society headed by Dr Yan Vlasov) was joined by representatives from the media, while they tested out the first inclusive beach in the Samara city area.

Svetlana Goronkova (who won MSIF’s Wolfensohn Award in 2013) was directly engaged in the development of the accessible beach. She ensured that people with MS (as well as those with other disabilities) were fully involved in the design and testing of the facilities. The team from the MS organisation took great delight in visiting the beach and finding that it is now suitable for people with a wide range of accessibility needs.

The new facilities include beach cloak-rooms, ramps towards and into the water, and trained volunteers to help people use the equipment and enjoy the space.

Pavel Zlobin from the Russian MS Society said: “To get to a point where people with disabilities can have total independence on the beach is yet a sweet dream. However, many masterpieces have been born after first scratches.”

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