Praia Para Todos Opens Copacabana Beach To Disabled

Praia Para Todos Opens Copacabana Beach To Disabled

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Open water swimmers simply head off to the oceans by car, train, bus or bike. They get out and walk across the sand and enjoy their sport.

Swimsuit, goggles and swim cap is all they need. It is so simple, so refreshing, so natural.

But it is not that way for everyone. The soft sand can be an impossible impediment for those who are disabled and are restricted to wheelchairs. For them, the white, wide sandy beaches are an effective barrier to doing open water swimming.

But Nena Gonzales and her colleagues and volunteers have been knocking down those barriers since 2008. Through their project, Praia Para Todos (Beach For All), those restricted to wheelchairs can now cross the the paved streets of Rio de Janeiro, across the wide white sand of Copacabana Beach, and enjoy swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.

Nena [shown below] places solid woven plastic carpets on Copacabana Beach that enable the disabled to cross the soft sand and sit in special floatable chairs. The individuals get on the chairs and are pushed easily over the sand and directly into the water. Once they are in the water, they slip off and go for a swim.


The beauty, joy and challenge of open water swimming is now accessible to those for whom it was never a realistic possibility through the donations and passion of people like Nena.

This year on behalf of the King and Queen of the Sea (Rei e Rainha do Mar), Pedro Rego Montiero [shown below] donated 17,000 rials to Nena’s Praia Para Todos that enabled the personable leader to purchase 7 new custom chairs and a special carpet for the project. Praia Para Todos is another enabling program provided by the Instituto Novo Ser of Rio de Janeiro.

Thomas Lurz of Germany and Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil helped the disabled feel like heroes as they got into the water with them.

Pedro Rego Montiero explains the program below:

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Steven Munatones