Bayfair Shopping Centre wins award for nation-leading accessibility programme

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Imagine a shopping centre that is entirely accessible, where its community and the needs of every person takes centre-stage, in-turn creating a truly accessible space for us all. That is what Bayfair Shopping Centre has set out to create with the belief that every person has their part to play in the creation of accessible environments regardless of how small the change.

A series of New Zealand firsts in the arena of community progress and accessibility has led Bayfair Shopping Centre to win an award for its nation-leading accessibility programme as an exemplar of accessibility in public spaces at the Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA) Marketing Awards. This coveted award heralds a prize donation of AU$2,500, which Bayfair has decided to donate to Omanu Surf Life Saving Club.

The SCCA Marketing Awards gives shopping centres in Australia and New Zealand the opportunity to be recognised, according to their size, in one of five major marketing categories – Bayfair’s nation-leading accessibility programme entry was awarded under the community category.

Angus Nardi, Executive Director of the SCCA says, “The Shopping Centre Council of Australia is pleased to be recognising Bayfair Shopping Centre for its contribution to its local communities. These Awards seek to highlight the ‘best of the best’ in shopping centre marketing and are highly valued across New Zealand and Australia. This year we had a record 172 entries across the Award’s five categories.

“Bayfair’s efforts with regard to accessibility are commendable. The centre obviously listened to and engaged with its community, and made adjustments to suit its needs. The campaign obviously stood out to the judging panel and they have been rewarded.

“The Shopping Centre Council is very pleased to provide financial support to local community groups like Omanu Surf Club through these awards and in recognition of Bayfair’s efforts.

The donation is destined for great things at its grateful recipient, Omanu Surf Life Saving Club. Both Omanu Surf Club and Bayfair have a similar vision in mind of creating more accessible beaches throughout Tauranga, not only with just Bayfair’s customers in mind but the entire region. Every year thousands of beachgoers head to Omanu Beach and are kept safe by the service the club provides, it is the largest Surf Life Saving Club in the Bay of Plenty.

Michelle Smith, General Manager of Omanu Surf Life Saving Club, says, “We are incredibly grateful and humbled that Bayfair chose us to receive this donation – to be aligned with and supported by such a successful Bay of Plenty icon is exciting. The money that we are receiving was awarded to the centre for being the most accessible shopping centre, so by its very nature, it feels right to use that money for a similar use at our club.

“We try our hardest to accommodate everyone and make access to the beach as easy as possible. The beach is part of a great Kiwi summer; it is something that everyone should be able to enjoy! Lifeguards retell stories of helping people get to the water, literally in tears with happiness, some having not been in the ocean for 20 years. It is so rewarding being able to offer so much more than life-saving services to the public and make sure everyone can access the beach.”

Earlier this year, Bayfair was moved to donate $2,000 to a Givealittle page for funds towards a special wheelchair equipped to get on the beach for Josh Laforteza, a young Tauranga teen with Cerebral Palsy, Josh has a strong love for the beach and had not been able to touch sand in five years, but the donation allowed his family to purchase the beach-ready wheelchair.

Kylie McGregor, Marketing Manager at Bayfair Shopping Centre says the centre would love to help more people like Josh. “We have been discussing beach accessibility options, looking into innovative products that will make access across sand and into water much easier, such as beach mats.
“Alternatively, there is the option to work with the team at Omanu and purchase more beach-friendly wheelchairs for public use. We are so grateful that we have not only been recognised for our efforts through this award but that we can put the prize money towards continuing our regions accessibility journey.”