Town of Blackfalds introduces new inclusive playground

Fundraising for the playground has been the biggest challenge

The Town of Blackfalds began the journey to build an inclusive playground in September of 2018. (Submitted by the Town of Blackfalds)

The Town of Blackfalds began the journey to build an inclusive playground in September of 2018.

The Town approached Variety– A Children’s Charity organization, who represents the idea that in an age where less physical activity occurs in the average population, children living with disabilities experience many barriers with being physically active. According to Variety, less than 10 per cent of all playgrounds in Alberta are built to accommodate children and community members with the spectrum of disabilities.

“With the benefits for physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development, creating inclusive playgrounds will help remove these barriers by using an inclusive design that benefits all children,” explained Larry Horeczy, Co-Managing Director with Variety.

“Properly designed fully inclusive playgrounds create a physical avenue for children with disabilities to play as well as for parents or other caregivers who may have disabilities themselves to take children to a safe, inclusive environment,” Larry said. “Blackfalds did not have a fully inclusive playground, and the Town was in support of working with our charity to bring one to its community members.”

Due to the current economy, fundraising for the playground has been the biggest challenge for both parties, but with the support from Lacombe County, the Optimist Club of Blackfalds, and several businesses and service clubs from both the Town and the County, the donations have helped make the playground possible.

The Town of Blackfalds committed $125,000.00 as approved by Council, and Lacombe County contributed $50,000.00.

“These playgrounds are very important to have in the community. We want everyone to feel welcome and included. We are thankful for the partnerships from Variety, the Optimist Club County and CFEP that have allowed this dream to become a reality,” shared Mayor Richard Poole of Blackfalds.

The playground will feature a dual zip-line, a two-bay swing set, spinning net climber, sensory panels, five-person see-saw, a quiet seating area, and round benches for parents.

“Rather than focus on playground equipment, we focus on the experience that an inclusive playground offers children and community members,” Larry added. “Play is a crucial part of building children’s physical, social, and intellectual skills and offer play spaces where children learn to share, work together, and learn how to treat their peers. If community groups, school groups, and municipalities continue to build playgrounds that are not inclusive, then they continue to deny children from participating in these critical experiences.”

With the help of at least 50 volunteers and the donations of supplies and services from local businesses, Variety and the Town of Blackfalds broke ground on the project in the summer of 2019. The playground is almost complete and is slated to open for public use on June 26, 2020, at 4 pm, weather permitting.

The Town of Blackfalds will wait to host a formal grand-opening celebration until Stage 3 of the Government’s Relaunch Plan as we intend to host members from Variety, The Optimist Club, and Lacombe County.

-Submitted by the Town of Blackfalds

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