Lawyer turned wheelchair tennis champ, Cisco Garcia, will visit world’s first certified accessible resort, Amilla Maldives.
Professional tennis player, Cisco Garcia, is coming to the Maldives to show resort guests that being in a wheelchair shouldn’t be a barrier to getting out on the courts – or indeed to achieving anything.
Cisco, a former lawyer who sustained an injury to his spinal cord while snowboarding in 2015, went on to become a wheelchair tennis star, Paralympian and author of the autobiographical book, ‘Unbreakable. The art of always getting up once more’. He is a charismatic disability advocate and so far has had a career-high ranking of 43 in the ITF wheelchair singles. Cisco will be visiting Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences from September 26th to October 3rd, which will coincide with the launch of a wheelchair tennis programme for Amilla’s guests.
Cisco commented “I have a phrase that has stuck with me since getting injured, which is GIVE US WALLS SO WE CAN BRING THEM DOWN. Even the most unlikely of things is possible once they are accomplished, and what Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences has done shows that. Simply imagining an adapted resort in a place as wild as the Maldives seems unlikely, and to carry it out seems impossible. Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences have made this possible and will allow travellers from all over the world to enjoy an incredible place”.
The five-star resort, Amilla Maldives, is set to become the world’s first certified accessible resort for disabled travellers, many of whom previously saw remote destinations like the Maldives as off-limits. Amilla has undergone an audit by Inclucare to make it accessible to those with mobility, sensory or cognitive requirements. British TV presenter and award-winning disability advocate, Sophie Morgan, launched the initiative at Amilla in July.
Amilla’s Activities Manager, Arthur Libaud, who was formerly Amilla’s in-house tennis pro, is developing the wheelchair tennis programme. He will also be leading the coaching, having previously spent lots of time developing it in his hometown in France.
“It is a very exciting project,” says Arthur. “The goal is to have a wheelchair specifically for tennis that any of our disabled guests can use. I’ll show them how they can easily play tennis. We will have a discovery class for disabled guests, but also we will open it to non-disabled guests to show a new perspective to them and maybe help raise more awareness”.
Amilla Maldives already had many accessible features such as ground-floor villas, a beach wheelchair and light-up phones for the hearing impaired. But they are also rolling out many new developments to make Amilla fully inclusive, such as adaptive yoga and snorkelling, sensory experiences for vision-impaired guests, ‘calming spaces’ designed to reduce anxiety and stress for guests who are sensitive to high sensory experiences, and deaf-alert systems. All of the staff are being trained to ensure every guest of every level of mobility feels comfortable.
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