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Colten Stapleman, an 8-year-old boy from Mount Pleasant, isn’t letting his disability stop him from soaking up the sun at North Beach, 100 Kewaunee St., in Racine. During Disability Pride Month, the child and his mother, Jill Stapleman, are choosing to share their story, in hopes that others take advantage of the Mobi Mat, a non-slip mat that allows wheelchair users to navigate sandy beaches.

Colten uses a wheelchair, due to Cerebral Palsy and many other medical conditions. Instead of letting his disability prevent him from going to the local beach, he is utilizing the ADA-accessible wheelchair mat. The vinyl mat makes a path through the sand from the North Beach Oasis down near the water’s edge.

Interestingly enough, Real Racine shares that this mat made its first appearance back in 2010 and North Beach will forever be known as Wisconsin’s first beach to install this device.

Colten’s mom shares, “I found myself being so grateful that someone thought of kiddos and others in wheelchairs when they put that in.”

Colten Stapleman utilizes the Mobi Mat during Disability Pride Month at Racine’s North Beach. – Credit: Jill Stapleman

Disability Pride Month

Throughout the month of July, the Stapleman family is extremely grateful to be able to celebrate Disability Pride Month by partaking in accessible activities like going to the beach. This month commemorates the passing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which first took place in July 1990. During this month, the family reflects on how this activity wouldn’t be possible for their son without the innovative tool.

Jill shares, “I know so many people see it as an easier way to transport their stuff or walk down to the water (and it is) but for me and my family it’s so much more. It’s an opportunity to do the little things that ‘normal’ functioning families get to do.”

Racine’s accessibility makes a difference

While this is the first year that the family is aware of Disability Pride Month, they hope that others use this month to learn about those with disabilities.

“It’s bringing awareness to the community about disabilities, which I thought was neat,” says Colten’s proud mama.

The support from the community, businesses and the public doesn’t go unnoticed by this Racine County resident. Racine’s accessibility makes life easier for Colten, but also for his family.

Jill comments, “I feel Racine is very accessible.”

To name a few, this mother is impressed with the sidewalks and other areas available for her to push the wheelchair. Likewise, the playground at Kids Cove near North Beach is also accessible for Colten. The Racine Public Library is another accommodating location.

She says, “no matter where we go, restaurants, stores, and people within the community are very accommodating.”

While Colten’s disability poses challenges, his mom states, “I absolutely love being his mama. God has allowed me to see things differently through having a child with disabilities. It has been so extremely hard but I would not change it for anything.”

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