Every Kids Park a model for park design
Orangeville's Every Kids Park on Townline has become a role model in the design of playgrounds and MPP John Tory received an informal briefing from Orangeville resident Wendy Cook on the benefits of building such inclusive parks in Ontario.
Ms. Cook is a founding member on the committee that spearheaded the project in 2000 and has since worked with other communities to build accessible and inclusive parks.
"It's important to remember the difference between accessibility and inclusion," she said.
"Accessible means, the ability to access the park and inclusion means having equipment available so everyone, regardless of ability level, can be included in the activity."
Mr. Tory was invited to tour the park while Ms. Cook discussed the various elements of both accessibility and inclusion.
Design elements pointed out by Ms. Cook included soft rubberized matting around the equipment instead of sand as an example of accessibility and the faux sandbox, which is raised so a child in a wheelchair can reach
the playing surface. She said that is just one of the design elements that help all children be included in the play area.
"Sometimes it's just a matter of a minor modification," she explained.
During the design process the park committee worked with communities with barrier-free parks, and in turn Every Kid's Park is working with even more communities and the park is used as an model for new parks
designs. "I have worked with a number of communities, across Canada, in the U.S. and even one park being built in Germany," Ms. Cook said.
"It's important for communities to include all its citizens when designing public spaces like playgrounds," said Ms. Cook. "Dufferin County should be especially proud of its work so far."
Community support of accessibility and inclusion endeavours will become a
norm when local bylaws are changed to reflect the needs of the community and Ms. Cook is pleased at Orangeville's commitment, including a barrierfree community within its vision statement.
Mr. Tory at the conclusion of the tour said he was impressed with what he sees in Every Kid's Park and believes its up to the province to provide the leadership.
"It's simple changes but important changes, by
just modifying the design of the equipment can make a huge impact," Mr. Tory said. "Governments at every level need to advocate for change - by providing the funding to make up the additional costs of the modified playground equipment."
Mr. Tory thanked Ms. Cook for showing him the special features in Every Kid's Park. "It's projects like this," he says. "That helps eliminate the gap and includes everyone."