LIVERPOOL – Children of all abilities should be able to play – and they will soon be able to do just that in Liverpool.
An amended motion to go ahead with building an inclusive playground in Liverpool was passed at the Region of Queens Municipality’s regular council meeting Feb. 27.
The region will donate the usage of the land adjacent to the Mersey Skate Park, on Old Cobb’s Road, for the installation of the playground. The region will also begin a five-year renewable partnership with Autism Nova Scotia, which will allow the organization to manage the construction and handle the ongoing maintenance of the playground.
Included in the motion is an agreement to provide up to $25,000 in financial support, as requested.
Cynthia Carroll, executive director of Autism Nova Scotia, and Barb Cochrane, a navigator and volunteer with Autism Nova Scotia’s South Shore chapter, gave a presentation about building an inclusive playground to the Region of Queens council Feb. 13.
Cynthia Carroll, executive director of Autism Nova Scotia, and Barb Cochrane, a navigator and volunteer with Autism Nova Scotia’s South Shore chapter, made the presentation.
“In 2016, concerned community members addressed mayoral candidates about how they would support individuals with disabilities and their families,” said Cochrane. “There were great conversations about what the Region could do to make the most positive impact on the community. The vision of an inclusive playground for all abilities was born.”
Cocherane said a committee then formed and approached Autism Nova Scotia’s South Shore chapter.
“One of the things that’s really exciting about an inclusive playground in Liverpool is that we really don’t have a lot of inclusive playgrounds in our province,” said Carroll.
She said there’s one in Halifax at Westmount Elementary School, which the autism camp uses.
“It promotes meaningful play experiences for people of all ages and abilities,” said Cochrane about what an inclusive playground is.
An inclusive playground in Liverpool could include climbing ropes, wheelchair inclusive picnic tables, a low slide, stepping stones, a wheelchair inclusive merry-go-round and splash pads, among other things.
Cochrane said the playground would be away from water, which is important.
“It had to be close to parking and far enough away from busy streets,” said Cochrane about the choice of location.
Carroll said Autism Nova Scotia promotes acceptance, understanding and inclusion.
“Autism Nova Scotia was founded in 2002 by parents Jack and Joan Craig who have an adult son on the autism spectrum,” explained Carroll.
Initially, when the organization started, it was a resource centre that continued to grow. The South Shore autism chapter opened its doors in 2009.
“We’re currently located in Hebville at the portable behind the school, and so we serve the whole region,” said Cochrane.
The chapter is volunteer-run, and all donations support the delivery of programs.
“We have the lending library, we’ve had art programs (and) we’ve had swimming,” said Cochrane.
There’s a yoga program happening in Queens County and Bridgewater, and a curling program began at the Liverpool Curling Club recently.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
“It is currently the most common neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosed among children today, so prevalence rates are sitting at about one in 68,” said Carroll.
While ASD was once thought to be more common among boys, Carroll said girls have been historically under diagnosed, so the ratio is closer to two-to-four.
“We know that autism is across the lifespan, so when you’re diagnosed with autism, it’s a lifespan, lifelong condition, so children with autism grow up to be adults with autism,” said Carroll.
Carroll said inclusive playgrounds are, therefore, important for all ages.
Cochrane said there are 200 students with autism in the South Shore Regional School Board.