From left: Kristine Chamberlain

Specialized playground equipment soon a reality at Colwood school

All children to benefit from inclusive and accessible playground items

Accessible playground equipment is coming to Colwood elementary.

A fundraising walk-a-thon in 2014, supplemented by $4,000 in Parent Advisory Committee funds in conjunction with outside community support, has paved the way for a wheelchair-accessible picnic table, a drum set and a chime set to arrive at the school shortly after spring break.

“We will be over there almost daily. (Savannah) loves to be able to play the drums and it will be neat to see her near the other kids,” said Kristine Chamberlain, whose nine-year-old daughter suffers from a severe form of epilepsy. “It’s exciting; it is something that had been talked about before Savvy was in school … To see it actually happen and knowing that nudging it along has made it happen, it’s great.”

Chamberlain said it’s not just her daughter, but other children in the neighbourhood who can benefit from the new inclusive items in the playground. She was excited to attend a school assembly featuring a cheque presentation from Sutton Realty for $5,000 towards the playground. The assembly included a presentation from Canadian Paralympic athlete Meghan Montgomery, who Chamberlain said has been an inspiration.

“I think anyone who has gone through great struggles in life can come and show the kids their success is awesome,” she said. “I think it’s important for kids to realize that no matter what kind of disability you have, you can still be very successful in life.”

Montgomery, born with a congenital disability, said it may have been caused by a lack of blood flow to her right hand before she was born.

She endured five surgeries from the time she was six months old to when she was 15, to separate what had been stuck together and create three mobile fingers on her right hand, covered in part with skin tissue from her hips.

“We have all had something to overcome and everyone experiences that. It is so important for those, especially those that are young to be seeing that example,” Montgomery said. “It takes that little bit of extra support.”

She said confidence was an issue for her growing up, but support from friends, family and coaches pushed her to become a world championship rower, winning one gold, one silver and three bronze medals for Canada and appearing twice in the Paralympic Games. Support like that can start from the little things, like a playground for children, she added.

“This is such an amazing movement that this is happening, because people with disabilities are often kept out of those things and a playground is a great example.

“Even if they can’t do all the things their friends are doing, at least they are able to be in the vicinity,” she said. “Just making it accessible and putting it (nearby) is going to continue to grow relations and support the differences, and those are the things that need to continue to happen. This is exciting to see.”

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

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