In October of 2012, the Alexander Park Elementary School Parent Advisory Council took on a much needed project, the building of a new playground.
Not only did they take on the responsibility, they also identified a need for greater accessibility in the community’s playgrounds, and decided to expand the project to include accessible features.
“What’s special about this playground is that it’s an accessible playground, which means that it has excellent access for children with mobility issues,” said Chenoa Paccagnan, president of the APES PAC.
These accessible features increased the cost of the project, but Paccagnan and the PAC are pleasantly surprised by how the community has gotten behind the project.
They budgeted the playground at just over $150,000 when they began in October, and have already raised $116,000.
“When we first started we weren’t sure if Golden had an appetite for a fully accessible playground, because the rubber base adds significantly to the cost,” said Paccagnan.
The rubber base, with a roll down curb, makes the playground accessible to children with wheel chairs. And the flat access also helps children with visual impairments.
The PAC has also chosen some accessible equipment including many ground level play areas, a bouncy bus that wheel chairs can roll around on, and two disc swings that allow kids who cannot hold onto a regular swing, lay down in the disc and swing.
Stan Metcalfe (Golden Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic) has 80 children going through his office with some sort of mobility issue.
“What he (Metcalfe) has said is that every single one of his children would benefit from this play area. It’s not just for children in wheel chairs. And even if it only helps one, isn’t it worth it?” asked Paccagnan. “It also eliminates barriers in a larger way. Children don’t see children with disabilities the way adults do. All they see is that children are playing in the area, or they’re not. Now they’ll all be playing together.”
“The best part of my job is getting kids playing,” said Metcalfe. “And the pieces that Chenoa and the PAC have picked will make a huge difference.”
The PAC gave themselves until June 2014, but are pleased to say they are ahead of schedule in their fundraising efforts. Given that the construction window for a school project is between May and October, it is likely that playground will be installed in spring, 2014.
Paccagnan also wanted to thank the project’s sponsors UBCM, the PAC, School District 6 (who will take over the installation and maintenance of the playground), the Rotary, The Town of Golden, The Columbia Basin Trust, the BC Tire Stewardship, and the Golden Firefighters’ Association.