Kids of all abilities have a place to play at Vernon’s Marshall Field Park.
On Thursday (Aug. 18) the City of Vernon and Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities officially celebrated the 7,500 square-foot inclusive playground that opened to the public last fall, conveniently located adjacent to other recreation facilities.
With kids cheerfully playing in the background, Mayor Victor Cumming told the crowd that news of the playground had come to council’s surprise.
“We were floored because we didn’t apply for it, we didn’t request a playground, we were completely out of the loop,” he said, explaining that local Canadian Tire associate dealer Jack D’Amico stepped in with a donation and a partnership offer.
The city had already approved funding to build a playground at the location, but not nearly at this scale, said Jumpstart regional manager Katlyn Soanes.
“Each piece here has been mindfully chosen,” she said while giving a tour of the playground features, which include a roller slide, a sensory wall, double-wide ramps to accommodate wheelchairs, a musical section, a large teeter-totter and more.
The playground as a whole is designed to accommodate sensory, cognitive and physical disabilities. There’s even a “cozy dome” which kids can crawl into when they need a break from sensory stimulation.
The rubber surface allows for a barrier-free transition from pathways to playground, and it’s made of recycled tires. The surface is coloured red, which isn’t just an homage to Canadian Tire; it provides a contrast to help kids with low vision distinguish the play area from the surrounding cement.
Teamwork, confidence and creativity are some of the life skills such a playground can help develop, according to Scott Fraser, president of Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.
“We are proud to partner with the City of Vernon and our local Canadian Tire dealer to bring the power of inclusive play to families across the Greater Vernon Area,” Fraser said.
Since 2005, the national charity has distributed more than $259,000 in the Vernon area to help more than 1,800 kids take part in sport and recreation, supporting such organizations as the North Okanagan Therapeutic Riding Association and the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society.