Kora Robinson, a kindergarten student, plays at McGirr Elementary School’s new accessible playground at Thursday’s grand opening. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Accessible school playground enables all kids to play

Nanaimo’s McGirr Elementary School held a grand opening for its new accessible playground Thursday

Everybody can play at a new inclusive and accessible playground at McGirr Elementary School.

The playground’s official opening was Thursday and was the culmination of four years of planning and $400,000 in fundraising, sponsorships and partnerships, spearheaded by the school’s parent advisory committee.

“When children are faced with barriers to something as simple as playing, they are denied access to so many things: life friendship and relationship opportunities, learning life lessons,” said Mabel Houghton, whose daughter Hannah uses a wheelchair. “Today we want all children to know that they are part of this community and they need to feel that they belong, no matter their ability.”

School principal Gregg Halfyard said the PAC showed “unwavering dedication” to the project and school district trustee Bill Robinson praised the PAC with every superlative in the dictionary.

The entire playground has a forgiving rubber surface recycled from old tires and some of the features include accessible swings and a merry-go-round, as well as music-making features such as drums and xylophones.

“It’s not just thinking about a surface or a few pieces of equipment. It’s about thinking about every child in the school and what they need,” said Marika Van Dommelen of the Rick Hansen Foundation. “It’s about thinking about all sorts of different types of disabilities and how can we accommodate every single one of those and make it possible for every single child in this school and in this community to be part of what’s going on on the playground.”

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell called the opening of the McGirr school playground “an incredible moment for our community.” She said she brought her son to Parksville’s Community Park many times when he was young, though it wasn’t accessible for her.

“I didn’t have a place where I could go and play at the playground with him … I never got to sit at the bottom of the slide and catch my child coming down and see that happy smile,” she said.

Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, Rick Hansen Foundation Access4All and the federal government were some of the supporters of the project.

Marco Di Buono, associate vice-president with Jumpstart, told those at the grand opening that “you’re here to unveil this amazing new playground, but you’re also here for the beginning of a movement towards accessibility and inclusion for every child with different abilities across this country.”

Houghton suggested that movement needs to include a different way of thinking about abilities and accessibility.

“Inclusion means you are included in everything, everywhere, all the time,” she said.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Vehicles crash at Mary Ellen Drive intersection

One vehicle was towed after a car crash in the north end of the city on a rainy Sunday night

VIDEO: Campaign begins to keep Nanaimo Recycling Exchange open

Lease for recycling exchange on Kenworth Road site expires in March

Woman accidentally hands over diamond ring with spare change

Incident happened Wednesday at about 7 p.m. at parking lot near Nanaimo’s boardwalk

Proposed public art installation sparks debate in Victoria

$250,000 sculpture compliments an interactive sound element of First Nations drumming and singing

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Family suspends search for missing Alberta couple, plane near Revelstoke

Due to bad weather, families of missing Albertan couple say they will resume in the spring

Canadian grocers make $3M per year from penny-rounding: UBC study

Ottawa announced plans in 2012 to phase out the copper coin

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

B.C. anti-hate campaigner finds Google search on his efforts redirects to porn

Text from online news article about Cran Campbell being used to link to suspect websites

‘The Last Jedi’ opens with $220M, 2nd best weekend all-time

As anticipated, the movie fell shy of the opening weekend for J.J. Abrams’ 2015 franchise reboot

2 couples tie the knot in Australia’s 1st same-sex weddings

West Australian couple Anne Sedgwick, Lyn Hawkins have been together for 40 years

B.C. concert promoter bans Nazi symbols at shows

A man was witnessed making a Nazi salute during a heavy metal show at Pub 340

Most Read