The walkway to Bayview Beach in Saco, as seen on Thursday morning. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

SACO — The beach will soon be more accessible for beach goers of all abilities.

Age Friendly Saco, a group that promotes active aging and strives to make Saco a better place to live for all ages, was one of six winners of the Maine of the AARP Community Challenge Grant.

Age Friendly Saco will be using the grant money to purchase a beach mat that, when installed, will provide a flat surface on the beach, making it more accessible for those with mobility issues, including people in wheelchairs or who use walkers.

“We’re super-psyched,” said Jean Saunders, program coordinator for Age Friendly Saco  in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I actually placed the order today.”

Saunders said the mat will be installed this summer at Bayview Beach. The mat will run straight down from the parking lot to the high water mark, and then turn right to the life guard chair.

The mat will be very durable and low maintenance. It is manufactured by Mobi-mat, a company that makes beach accessible mats inspired by beach landing mats used by the U.S. Marines.

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The grant covers the cost for the mats, which is about $7,700,Saunders said. She said the beach mats are part of a larger project to make the beach accessible for all ages. Age Friendly Saco is also looking for funding for a beach wheelchair.

AARP received more than 1,600 grant applicants nationwide and awarded 129 grants.

“In an age-friendly community, residents benefit from an environment that encourages them to remain active, healthy, and socially engaged,” stated Lori Parham, AARP Maine state director in a written statement. AARP officials in Maine are proud of the work being done by communities and AARP was proud to announce winning projects in Blue Hill, Eastport, Gardiner, Raymond, Readfield and Saco, she said.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected].

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