The new Delcrest Park playground in Delhi is now welcoming to parents and children of all abilities.
“I’m able to go on the surface as opposed to sitting on the side and watching my daughter play,” said Chantelle Fournier, a member of the Norfolk County Accessibility Advisory Committee who uses a wheelchair.
“With these kinds of parks, I can interact and be right there having fun with my daughter.”
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Delcrest Park to commemorate the county’s new fully accessible park on May 28.
“This park is clearly evidence of Norfolk County’s commitment to improving accessibility for everyone here in Norfolk,” Mayor Chopp said to the people in attendance at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far through being a politician it’s that no decision will make everyone happy. At the end of the day this is a fundamental principle that everyone can agree on, that all kids deserve a happy and fun childhood,” said Chopp.
The $50,000 project was funded by the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF).
“It’s a new world,” Fournier said in an earlier news release. “It’s a new opportunity that I couldn’t explore or discover with my daughter otherwise. The more opportunities that we get, the more we try.”
The old playground, built in 1994, was no longer suitable. The site now has accessible parking nearby, and will now be able to welcome children who might not have had the opportunity to play there previously.
County staff estimates that 9,000 individuals with disabilities will benefit from the playground within the first year of it being open.
Chopp said the park is a model that can be used for future park updates across Norfolk County.
“I think it’s certainly a model that we’ll be able to build on,” said Chopp. “The goal here is to improve accessibility for all.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing more of these completely accessible parks across Norfolk County,” added Waterford Coun. Kim Huffman.
Ward 3 Coun. Michael Columbus thanked the previous council for its work towards the project.
“I want to commend our council and all of the staff that were involved in making this beautiful project happen. I also want to commend the former council because it was their initiation that got this project going along with the help of the accessibility advisory committee,” said Columbus.
The new equipment is expected to bring in more camps, play groups, school trips and further promote daily exercise. It will also build communication and help cultivate social skills among the county’s youth.
“The event comes at a fitting time as it happens in conjunction with National Access Awareness Week (May 27 to June 2),” Shelley Darlington, Norfolk County’s director of corporate support services, said in a release.
The EAF Community Accessibility Stream provides funding for projects that help improve accessibility in communities across Canada through renovations, retrofits, construction or providing information and communications technologies for community use.
Norfolk County has received EAF grants for the DAISY Readers program at Norfolk County Public Library, accessible washrooms in the Delhi Community Centre Arena, an accessible playground at Lakeview Park, a pool lift at the Annaleise Carr Aquatic Centre, and accessible beach mats at Port Dover Beach.
“Norfolk County is proud of the numerous accessible projects that have been undertaken over the past few years,” said Darlington. “Accessible recreation is a vital part of a healthy community which brings families and children of all abilities together and promotes physical and social activity.”
These projects helped bring Fournier and her family back to the area. Two decades ago, she moved to Kitchener seeking a more accessible community but has since returned home.
“I started coming back and noticing we were getting bigger stores which means more accessibility and more growth,” Fournier explained. “From where Norfolk was 20 years ago to now is unbelievable. For being a small community, they’ve all come together in making everything more accessible and making more opportunities for people like me and people in general.”
The ceremony ended with a few words from Deborah Pike of the accessibility committee, and then a group from council and the committee cutting a ribbon.
“I want to thank everybody for making Norfolk County a more inclusive society,” said Pike.