ALDEN WILLIAMS / STUFF
Thomas Morrison tries his new wheelchair at Kohimarama Beach in Auckland.
Thomas Morrison, ten years old, was very fond of water, but, until now, going to the beach was not an option.
Thomas has a rare form of muscular dystrophy – a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass – and use a wheelchair, which makes entering and exiting water a struggle.
But purchasing an accessible wheelchair on the new beach will mean Auckland children can return to "happy places" and spend quality time with their families on the beach this summer, said mother Louise Morrison.
When he was young, Morrison and her husband Michael could take Thomas from his chair across the sand and into the water.
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But as we get older, it becomes more difficult.
They even tried to pull Thomas along the coast on a tricycle, but the wheels were stuck in the sand.
"It's very difficult to get him in and out of the water … we can't do that as a family."
Earlier this year Thomas's school went to camp to Long Bay, which happened to have several old beach wheelchairs.
He spent all day in the water, Morrison said.
Basically a deck chair on hard plastic, air-filled wheels, chairs that can be accessed on the beach they buy easily roll on soft sand and mud.
Thomas can sit on a chair in the water and can "ride the waves". This can also be used to enter and exit the pool.
"This opens up a new world for us," Morrison said.
"The sea is a pleasant place and his younger brother is very excited to be able to spend time with him in the water."
Because of his condition, Thomas was "very weak". He has very low muscle tone and low bone density throughout his body, Morrison said.
Not only a wheelchair that allows him to do something he likes, it is also a great physical exercise because it makes his muscles and body move, he said.
"It's important to keep him moving, it's really good for him.
"If you don't use your muscles, you lose them."
The St Heliers family was given $ 5730 from the Mazda Foundation for the chair. It was sent from Hamilton, arriving on Wednesday.