Inauguration of Proyecto Jaco Accesible Celebrates Central America's First Inclusive Beach March 01 2019

Today was a historic day for the City of Jaco Beach, the Canton of Garabito and all of Costa Rica.  The inauguration of Project Accessible Jaco (Proyecto Jaco Acesible) celebrated the first beach in Central America to implement access for people with disabilities, predominantly those confined by wheelchairs. The installation of a 63 meter long and one and a half meter wide ramp made with recycled plastic took place in south Jaco at the end of Calle Madrigal. The new ramp will facilitate getting to the ocean with more ease. Consequently, everyone can enjoy easier access in order to enjoy the beautiful ocean of the popular Central Pacific Coast's location up close and personal. 

National Adaptive Surf Team member, Natalia Vindas, is the  perfect host of today's inauguration. Pictured here with Mayor Murillo and Cristian Naranjo. 

National And Local Effort 

The idea for the ramp originated with Cristian Naranjo, a student of architecture at Costa Rica's University Latina. He proposed the idea to the Municipality of Garabito. The initiative received support from a number of organizations at the local and national level. A common theme of all people involved in the project has been the belief that all people are equal and have the right to enjoy God's creation. 

The Costa Rican Board of Tourism and Sustainable Business (ICT), the Mayor, members of the National Adaptive Surf Team,  and the Federation of Surf Costa Rica are some of the team players representing at the groundbreaking event. Mayor Murillo declared that this is only the beginning. Another speaker emphasized that there are 400 beaches in Costa Rica and why not make all of them accessible to people with physical disabilities. 

The spirit of the day was filled with applause, approval and the display of pride by many jacobeños, some of whom have family members with disabilities which have impeded their full enjoyment of the beach. It is time for that to change. Furthermore, a huge step for the country's tourism has been accomplished be opening this space for more inclusive vacations. 

The many players involved behind the scenes to make Proyecto Jaco Accesible a reality. 

Four of Jaco's five Guardavidas, Lifeguards, were acknowledged for their highly esteemed qualification and service. Missing from photo is "el jefe," Mar Chen who was busy at the ramp. 

Next Steps 

Plans are in place for the installment of bathrooms and showers that will have the necessary adjustments to make them fully accessible for everyone. "There is no difference between anyone, only attitudes that need to change," affirmed Natalia Vindas.

"It's cool to be a part of this project that unites different organizations with a common objective to make Jaco a beach for everyone."  - Natalia Vindas

Natalia Vindas shares a hug with youth counselor, Nicole Mesén, before heading down the new "pasarela" to catch some waves. 

After the speeches and fanfare, including a beautiful song by student Miguel Naranjo, it was time to test out the ramp. As Natalia commented, "the waves are getting better." The real fun started then, and the promise of many more days just like it for everyone, at Central America's first inclusive beach. 

Author Kate Hanley 

All photos courtesy of Pura Vida Board Gear. Follow us on instagram @puravidaboardgear