Kristine Chamberlain and her daughter

Taking steps toward inclusivity in Colwood

Wheelchair friendly playground a natural for Colwood elementary

Colwood elementary’s new playground promises to be more inclusive.

Students and parents at the school are raising funds for wheelchair-accessible equipment, which comes as good news to Kristine Chamberlain. Her eight-year-old daughter Savannah, who suffers from a severe type of epilepsy, is one of four wheelchair-bound students who may benefit from the redesigned playground area.

“We need to make it happen. They are going out every recess and lunch and having nothing to do except sit in their wheelchairs,” Chamberlain said. “These are kids can’t get on the swing and with them there is nothing for them to do; nothing for them to play with. It is really neat to have the support of the community.”

The project, which was given a boost last week when the students staged a walkathon, has seen everyone from the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC), teachers, students and administrators rally behind the initiative.

PAC executive member Alison Dame said the project has been a long time coming.

“We are a wheelchair friendly school, with completely flat levels with no (second floor),” she said. “We should have an accessible playground area. We should (already) have a playground like this.”

Dame said there are students who have spent their entire elementary years at the school without anything on the playground to play with. The PAC hopes to raise $7,500 towards equipment. Ideas include a picnic table where children with disabilities can sit with friends, or a set of musical drums and chimes easily accessed by children in wheelchairs.

They have raised more than $4,400 so far from the 198 students who collected pledges for Friday’s one-hour walk around the school property.

The goal, Dame said, is to create an accessible amenity available to the entire community, not just Colwood elementary students and fundraising continues with a beer and burger night Sunday (June 8) at the Loghouse Pub on Millstream Road.

The hope is to host the event every year, eventually raising enough money to remove the gravel rock in the playground area and update or add more wheelchair-accessible equipment.

“I think the best part will be to see the kids having fun with their friends and playing, being able to see them being a kid like every other kid,” Chamberlain said. “My hope is that every playground in the future is an inclusive playground. That doesn’t need to mean expensive equipment only for wheelchairs, but things that everyone can use.”

Cost is $20 for the beer and burger night at the Loghouse Pub, which goes from 5:30 to 8 p.m. For more information or to donate to the campaign, email colwoodelementarypac@gmail.com

alim@vicnews.com

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