Castle Park’s “Play for ALL” Quest

Did you know the Coquitlam School District has 30,000 students, and 4700 students with a special need? This includes over 300 with Autism and 21 in wheelchairs. And still the district doesn’t have a universally accessible playground with accessible swings, ramping, sensory equipment, and rubberized surfacing.

Castle Park Elementary in Port Coquitlam, is a school with 350 students, 20 of whom have special needs and three of whom are wheelchair bound. Those with special needs or who are in wheelchairs are often stuck sitting on the sidelines and watching their friends play. Like many schools in the district, their playground is unsafe and outdated, and the company that built it is no longer in business. However , the school is in the Semi-Finals of the AVIVA community fund contest to win $150,000 to build the first phases of Inclusive and Accessible Playground. It would be the first of its kind in the district and would give students with special needs equal access to a playground.

It wouldn’t be just the students of Castle Park Elementary who would benefit from this playground. There are no such playgrounds anywhere in the Tri-Cities. The nearest ‘inclusive’ playground is an hour away. If such playground a was built in the Tri-Cities, it would not only save on travel time for local families, but allow all students to play and learn together. As a team. 

Castle Park Play for ALL Quest Inclusive PlaygroundThe playground committee, as well as representatives from Habitat Systems, have chosen structures that address accessibility, age, and developmental appropriateness. Such equipment includes swings, sensory slides, a wheelchair accessible sway-fun apparatus, a ramp system with different sensory stations, horizontal ladders, varying deck levels with panels, a space link, and rubberized play grass surfacing.

The reason the school had turned to AVIVA for help was because British Columbia’s provincial government does not provide any funding for the “inclusive” playground project, and the school district does not fund initiatives such as playgrounds. Thus Castle Park Parent Advisory Council (CPPAC) and the school’s playground committee are dedicated to raising the necessary funds for this important project on their own. They have created a sponsorship package for the Play for ALL project, and have approached various organizations for support. They have received a $5,000 from the City of Port Coquitlam. However, the total cost of this project is $300,000.  As of now, CPPAC has raised funds for Phase 1 of this project which includes six swings and two bucket-swings with harnesses.

Castle Park Play for ALL Quest Inclusive PlaygroundOnly with AVIVA’s support will they be able to fund the next two phases of the project. If they win, Castle Park Elementary will be closer to fulfilling their long-awaited goal of creating a universally accessible playground.  It takes everyone’s support to create a playground that is universally accessible so that diversity is embraced and not ignored and no child should be forced to watch from the sidelines as their friends play.

Castle Park Elementary needs your vote everyday from December 3rd to 12th, 2012.  All that is required is registering your e-mail address, and it takes less than one minute to vote ever yday.  Voting begins TODAY and polling is open 9:00am to 9:00pm online through the AVIVA site or through their Facebook group.

Please vote so that future generations of children can enjoy playing together in a safe environment, teaching each other important life skills like communication, trust and respect.

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  1. Many thanks for posting our project! We are a few hundred votes away from the top 10 and 4 days left to vote. Thank you for promoting the voting so we can get there and finally build Tricities first Universally Accessible Playground for everyone regardless of age and ability! Thank you! Farah.