By Melissa Martz
The sound of children laughing and playing outdoors is a memory of our childhood. It reminds us of the friendships and happy moments when play was outstanding. I first learned about Kelly Meissner in 2012, and Elmira, Ontario mother and her plight to fund-raise and build a fully inclusive playground for her 2 yr old daughter Kate. Kate has a disability called “Angelman’s Syndrome”, a genetic disability that causes developmental delays, sleep issues, and seizures; so Kate could play alongside her brother, cousins, and friends.
Ontario is striving to be fully inclusive by 2025; this includes public playgrounds; schools too. Nine years until all playgrounds are “suppose” to be fully inclusive, it will prove to be quite the undertaking, considering that the conversion is starting with less than twenty-five public fully inclusive playgrounds throughout Ontario. With this said, although many playgrounds still need upgrading to meet the code by AODA, (Accessibility for Ontarians with a Disability Act) established playgrounds would need to fall down, before they can be replaced basically; although additions to existed are permitted, following the AODA code. The definition of an inclusive playground is one where it’s barrier-free all children can play side by side together, that means a rubberized surfacing, equipment, and activities at each level of the playground. As you thumb through the book, you will quickly become aware that inclusive playgrounds are more than ramps.
Inclusive Playgrounds: Play for Every Child was released in the nick of time. The only Canadian book of it’s kind available, it tells the story of how Meissner’s ‘Kate’s Place for Everyone’ in Elmira, came to be, along with highlighting seven other playgrounds in Ontario including Orangeville (where incidentally was the FIRST inclusive playground in Ontario built in 2000), Guelph, Port Hope, Brockville, St. Mary’s, Elora and Fergus.
Divided into five chapters, you will learn what the elements of inclusive playgrounds are, a step-by-step planning guide of how you can bring an inclusive playground to fruition, including grants you can apply for, and ideas on fundraisers to hold to generate the funds needed to bring the best playground your community has seen.
Let’s make Ontario’s playgrounds inclusive….one playground at a time.
Originally posted 2016-02-18 22:34:41.