New activities beach hut for disabled children in Weymouth

OPEN: Lesley Mellor, right, opens the new facility

OPEN: Lesley Mellor, right, opens the new facility

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A NEW beach hut has been unveiled for children with disabilities and special needs on Weymouth Beach.

Parents, carers and teachers united to celebrate the grand opening of the fourth facility of its kind, thanks to the Dorset Parent-Carer Council (DPCC).

It will be available for hire for DPCC members between March and October for £7 a day.

It is the brainchild of council chairman Lesley Mellor and Elaine Okopski who have both volunteered to make positive changes for young people with disabilities for many years.

She set up the DPCC after moving to the county and realising she didn’t know what services were available for her two sons, who both have special needs.

Formed in 2009, the DPCC, which is run by parents for parents and families, now has hundreds of members.

It works to provide a voice for families in Dorset in order to inform all agencies and service that offer help, advice and benefits to our children and ourselves.

Lesley said: “We are made up of parents of children who have a variety of special needs from complex medical needs to challenging behaviour to learning or physical difficulties and more.

“Our aim is to improve the lives and opportunities for families and children and young people who are disabled in Dorset.”

She added: “The beach huts are a great way for the youngsters to have a fantastic day out with all the facilities they need.”

The beach hut, which is located opposite the Regent Hotel, includes a changing table, furniture and a wheelchair slope for users – as well as being fitted with solar panels.

Other DPCC beach huts are in place at Friars Cliff, Christchurch, Knoll Beach, Studland and Lyme Regis.

The DPCC meet regularly with children’s services, health chiefs and hospital staff as well as having strong links with the county’s five special schools and numerous organisations.

Richard Lee also attended the opening to represent local company Plankbridge, who designed and made the Weymouth Beach hut.

Youngsters Elliot and Max, aged five, and Kenzie and Katie, aged seven, from Wyvern School made the most of the launch event with their teachers.

The beach hut project in Dorset has so far cost more than £40,000, with DPCC bidding for government funding each year to keep running.

n TO book the beach hut or find out more about the Dorset Parent Carer Council email <&bh"mailto:dpccbeachhuts@live.co.uk">dpccbeachhuts@live.co.uk<&eh> or call 07827 793244.

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