Thursday September 18, 2014

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Meadows School building a Playground for Everyone

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By Chris Tataryn Journal/Brandon

The playground at Meadows School is nearing the end of its lifespan, reaching 13-years-old this year; only two short of the recommended replacement date. Because the structure is aging, a group of women have accepted the goal of building a ‘Playground for Everyone.’ Meredith Walker, Lorie Stutsky, Amy Grift, and Karleigh Harvey-Zenk are the minds behind a planned play structure unlike any in Westman, aiming to be entirely accessible to any child, regardless of abilities. “This is going to be the first fully-accessible playground in Brandon or across Westman,” said Walker, co-chair of the Playground for Everyone group. “There is a lot of planning that goes into achieving this goal. We need accessible surfacing, different activity panels for children with different needs, and we have to take mobility, sensory, and size issues into account as well. It’s been challenging; we are into our third round of reviewing and changing it, but we are really excited for it and think it will be a great asset to the city.” The group needs to raise $140,000 to see the project through, and they have already raised $86,000 since just last May through grants and community fundraising. “We have already done lots of grant writing, which is really paying off,” said Walker. “We have received a grant from Manitoba Lotteries, a grant from the Cerebral Palsy Association, and a huge one from the Keg.” The Keg kicked off the project by awarding a $25,000 grant as part of their ‘Thanks a Million’ project. “That grant really got everyone excited for this project,” said Walker, who also says the group has done chocolate bar sales, a ‘family fun night,’ community movie nights, and various other community fundraising projects to help raise money as well. “Our goal this year is to fundraise hard and get the structure into the ground at the end of this school year.” The structure will be accessible to children in wheelchairs thanks to ramps up to playable features, as well as an easy way to transfer the kids up to a low slide they can use. It will also include wider steps with a more accessible width and depth, and many lower panels and features for shorter children as well. “We’ve really put a lot of thought into this,” said Walker. “While Meadows doesn’t specifically have a large number of kids who require this accessibility, there are many across the city that could make great use of this. We really wanted to make something for everyone in the city, and something positive for the community.”


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