When students return to Mattie McCullough Elementary next week, they’ll have an all-new playground to share with everyone.
Volunteers began working feverishly on Friday to install the first phase of the Access for All playscape, a venture between Rotary clubs of Red Deer, Rotaract and the City of Red Deer.
Most of phase one should be in place by the end of the month -- with more to come in late September and next summer.
Kim Kirkwood, Vice-Principal at Mattie McCullough, says once everyone’s vision has come to fruition, there will be no more inequalities on the playground.
“Mattie McCullough is definitely one of the places where we teach our kids that it doesn’t matter how old they are, that if they’re passionate about something and believe in something, they have the ability to find other people that feel the same way,” she says.
“It builds such strong community – it’s an amazing message to give to everybody that ideas and visions and beliefs can happen at any age.”
The push for a barrier-free playground at the school began when a group of students told administration they weren’t happy that two of their friends weren’t able to use the equipment.
Grant Burchnall, Access for All Chair with Rotary Club of Red Deer Sunrise, says whether it’s a four-year-old with a disability or a grandmother with a more able-bodied grand-child, everyone will be able to experience the new structures.
“We want the community to use it. Check it out – don’t assume you know what is here, give it a try and tell other people it’s for the city and the surrounding community,” he says. “It's for everybody to use.”
Burchnall says over the next year, another $85,000 still needs to be raised.
In addition to community members, staff and parents, Alberta Lotteries, the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Canada 150 Fund have all contributed to the cause.
A grand opening event for the new 12,000 square foot play area is scheduled for September 9 at 11 a.m.
If you'd like to volunteer with the build, you can contact organizers through their Facebook page. Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older and be wearing closed-toe shoes.
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