By Charlotte Libov
Chamber Member Sabrina Cohen’s vision of enabling people with disabilities to go regularly to the beach and partake in the same refreshing and healing sand-an-ocean experience that we all enjoy, is much closer to becoming a reality, thanks to the Miami Beach City Commission.
Mayor Levine and Commissioners voted 6-1 on July 26, 2017 to approve a proposal from the Sabrina Cohen Foundation (SCF) to construct an adaptive beach recreation center. The seaside recreational facility will host programs for adults and children with disabilities, providing an all-inclusive recreation and fitness experience.
“We are thrilled with the approval, and now it is time to come together as a community so we can make Miami Beach a world class destination for everyone,” said Cohen, founder and President of the nonprofit organization.
This important commitment enables SCF to launch a fundraising campaign for the bricks and mortar component, including the design and construction of the center. The 10,000 square-foot building will be constructed next to the fire station at 5301 Collins Ave. The land and building would be city-owned. A management company is yet to be approved. The foundation already holds twice-monthly fully adaptive beach days at 64th and Collins Avenue, where a fully adaptive playground, which is also part of the SCF project, is already under construction.
The commission’s vote came on the 27th anniversary of the signing into law of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else in America can enjoy. SCF weathered a setback in 2015, after the original site the city had selected for the center was abandoned due to neighborhood opposition. But this year’s meeting went differently. Even though there again was neighborhood opposition, Mayor Philip Levine said it was time to give SCF the green light.
“I think this is the greatest gift that our city has been given,” said Levine. “It’s one more feather in our cap to welcome this particular community,” he added. “We are very grateful to Mayor Levine and the commission for their support. Now is the time for all of us to come together as a community, to join in creating a facility that will put Miami Beach on the map as a destination that everyone can enjoy, no matter what their physical abilities,” said Cohen.
Cohen, a Miami Beach native, was paralyzed in 1992 when, at the age of 14, she was injured in a car accident on Alton Road. Since then, she has devoted herself to spearheading and championing causes to bettering the lives of people with disabilities. The fully accessible beach days were inaugurated last year, thanks to a partnership with the city, along with grants from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the Miami Foundation, and the help of supporters.
The program has also received major media national attention, creating positive exposure for the city.
To find out more about the foundation’s “Beach for All” program, go to www.sabrinacohenfoundation.org, or contact Cohen (305-968-8024 or Sabrina@sabrinacohenfoundation.org) to arrange a personal visit to Sabrina’s beach.
See us the news:
Mayor Philip Levine called for a vote without allowing much comment from other commissioners. “Vote your conscience,” he demanded. http://wsvn.com/news/local/city-commissioners-vote-in-favor-of-facility-for-physically-impaired-beachgoers/
Seaside facility for disabled gets initial commitment from Miami Beach: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article163852398.html#storylink=cpy
Ocean Drive Magazine: “Sabrina Cohen turned tragedy into triumph by starting a foundation that has made it possible for people with disabilities to enjoy the beach.” https://oceandrive.com/this-woman-helps-people-with-disabilities-go-to-the-beach