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Inclusivity in Grand Falls-Windsor playgrounds

Krysta Carroll photo/Special to the Advertiser<br />Grand Falls-Windsor Deputy Mayor Barry Manuel, chair of the parks, recreation and special events committee, is hopeful the new splash pad and playground on Sutherland Drive will be ready for operation this week.
Barry Manuel at the Goodyear Avenue playground

Town seeks funding to make local parks more inclusive for children of different abilities

GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – While Grand Falls-Windsor is home to some beautiful playgrounds, a splash pad and multiple parks, the town is lacking in facilities for children of different abilities.

Councillor Rod Bennett is hoping to change that.

The town’s parks and recreation department is applying for a Jump Start Accessibility Grant, which provides funding up to $250,000 to help support the cost of construction and renovations to improve physical accessibility to, and inclusivity in, recreation facilities for children with disabilities.
The town’s request will be for the entire amount, said Bennett.

The town currently has only one wheelchair-accessible swing, located at Corduroy Brook Trail and not at one of the more popular playgrounds in town. Bennett says a wheelchair-accessible swing costs in the range of $10,000.

“We will see wheelchair swings at each playground this summer,” said Bennett.
The Main Street and Goodyear Avenue playgrounds will get paved walkways from the park entryways to the swings, as well as paved parking spots for easier wheelchair accessibility.

For local mother Erica Billings, whose son Joel has cerebral palsy, this is very welcome news.
Her son is unable to swing or slide on the regular equipment at local playgrounds; he requires a wheelchair swing, or the saucer-type swings he can lay on, she said.

In previous years the town moved the wheelchair-accessible swing from Corduroy Brook to the Goodyear Avenue playground, but last year that didn’t happen.
It is a lovely spot at Corduroy Brook but there are other children around playing more so at a playground than (near the trail),” she said. “For Joel to go to a playground there needs to be something … he can actually get on. His CP affects both of his arms and both of his legs.”

Funding from the Jumpstart grant will hopefully address that.  

“Everybody should be included,” Bennett said, adding families in town have been requesting more accessible facilities from council.

Billings said she reached out to the town asking for wheelchair-accessible equipment for local playgrounds and knows of at least one other family in town who would appreciate the opportunity to use this equipment as well.

Right now, the town is preparing its application for funding, said Bennett. The application deadline for the Jumpstart grant is March 16, 2018.
The town will go ahead with setting up wheelchair-accessible swings regardless of whether the application is successful, said Bennett. Money has been allocated in the town’s budget, but outside funding would be a big help, he said. 

Samantha.gardiner@advertisernl.ca

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