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Setting the standard

Edmonton is hoping to show no child is forgotten on the city’s playgrounds.

Edmonton is hoping to show no child is forgotten on the city’s playgrounds.

The city is encouraging communities across Canada to make outdoor play easier for children with disabilities by unveiling a new guidebook that will make it easier for groups to build accessible playgrounds.

The guidebook, presented yesterday by policy and research officer Kim Sanderson, includes clear language and images to explain the standards for accessible playgrounds in Canada.

“Edmonton is the first Canadian city to establish policy to make sure all new and retrofitted playspaces are accessible,” Sanderson said. “Building accessible playgrounds means all kids are given the chance to reach their potential, and have fun just being kids.”

The Canadian Standards Association approved the Accessible Playspaces Design Standard in May 2007, but the standard only serves as a guideline for playgrounds across the country. Since Edmonton made the standard policy, new playgrounds in each corner of the city have been built to incorporate the needs of children with disabilities.

“Every new playspace (in Edmonton) meets that standard,” Sanderson said. “We construct 20 to 25 sites a year and when you think that each site lasts about 15 or 20 years, that’s a significant impact.”

Along with the guidebook, the city also featured the All Abilities Welcome tool kit, created by the Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability. Canadian Paralympic athlete Jason Dunkerley promoted the kit, which includes strategies to create more inclusive recreation programs in community organizations.

“I think breakthroughs are happening all the time … through bringing recreation organizations and people with disabilities in communities together,” Dunkerley said.

The cost to build an accessible playground consistent with CSA guidelines is estimated to be 10 to 15 per cent higher than a conventional playground.

Sanderson said most of that cost is allotted to resurfacing the site with rubberized material instead of sand to allow wheelchair access.

The standard also suggests specific ramp measurements and swing heights to allow children to use the playground equipment without assistance. The guidebook for the standard can be viewed at www.ala.ca.

 
 
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